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October 1999

Gail Wynters
My Shining Hour
Naxos Jazz

While the performance road for Gail Wynters extends back to the Sixties, her jazz outings have shared time with pop songs (she's performed on TV's The Palace), country, R&B, and rock, but not many recordings. She's a singer for the long haul in a business where modest success can mean possessing extraordinary gifts. Perhaps her experience and her Kentucky family church background of gospel music lend a quality to My Shining Hour that suggests the proclivities of the raconteur, as though she has more to say on each song and with an uncanny reckoning for timing and the pacing of words into sounds. She knows, for example, how to invest wry and ironical discomfort in "We'll Be Together Again" and "That Ole Devil Called Love," and manipulates words for the mambo settings of "The Very Thought of You" and "I'm Glad There Is You" by an enunciated twisting that borders on humor.

Gail Wynters stakes her own territory with such a horn-like style and it reminds one of Jimmy Scott more than Sarah. An even slower than usual tempo for "Every Time We Say Goodbye" and Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell for You" contrasts with the special directness for "I Remember You," "Come Rain or Come Shine," and Ronell Bright's "Sweet Pumpkin." A little gem is "The Right to Love," co-penned by Gene Lees and Lalo Schifrin, which invokes the atmosphere and theme of an overlooked verse to more familiar lyrics: it is a forte outing for Wynters, perfect for the kind of finding the silver lining quality her program features despite the clouds.

Gordon Brisker traveled from Down Under to produce the date and perform incisive tenor, and Bill Cunliffe and guitarist Joe Puma join Ed Howard and Danny D'Imperio in strong support for Wynters, who brings certain dignity to Naxos Jazz's first vocal issue recording.

Originally published in October 1999
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