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Chris McNulty: Dance Delicioso

The terrific thing about chameleons is that, by definition, they offer something for just about everybody. Consider Chris McNulty and her latest exercise in vocal shape-shifting. At first blush, on Annie Lennox’s rich, earthy “Primitive,” she suggests Bette Midler minus the brassy camp. On “All of You” she echoes Annie Ross’ stylish sophistication. On Bobby Troup’s “Meaning of the Blues,” stretched to nine gently bruised minutes, there’s evidence of Jeri Southern’s haunted beauty. Her “Star Eyes” mirrors Keely Smith. And “Only the Silence,” one of the disc’s five McNulty originals, hints at a hipper Streisand.

Such marvelous legerdemain demands, of course, equally dexterous sidemen, and McNulty’s surrounded by a skilled dozen: principal among them are drummer Billy Hart, pianist Mulgrew Miller, guitarist Paul Bollenback and saxophonists Gary Thomas, Gary Bartz and Dave Pietro. The only fault to be found with the generally buoyant proceedings is with McNulty’s too-weighty “Last Farewell,” which, intended to be wistfully reflective, instead seems merely ponderous.

Originally Published