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Daryl Sherman: A Lady Must Live

The increasing frequency of Daryl Sherman’s recording activity is a welcome development of the late 1990s. She has several interesting albums in her discography, but A Lady Must Live is her piece de resistance. The singer addresses 13 superb songs by Kurt Weill, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Cy Coleman, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Some of them teeter on the edge of obscurity, but if this CD gets the exposure it deserves, Ms. Sherman may nudge back toward recognition songs like “One Life to Live,” “It’s Love I’m After” and the startling “A Lady Must Live,” with its explicit lyrics.

Increasingly capable of subtle inflections of meaning, she offers a new assessment of “Lover Man.” Given the song’s indelible Billie Holiday/Sarah Vaughan associations, that is an accomplishment. “If I Love Again” is often used by bebop soloists as an up-tempo blowing vehicle, but Ms. Sherman reminds us of its essential nature as a love ballad. “Something to Live For” can easily lead a singer into bathos. Over Tommy Flanagan’s perfect accompaniment, Ms. Sherman avoids self pity, which is what many singers sink themselves with when they attempt Billy Strayhorn’s and Duke Ellington’s art song. She strikes a neat balance between disappointed longing and hope. The album, in fact, is rich with optimism, a wry sense of the ironies in the eternal love contest, and with musicianship. Arrangements by Dan Barrett, Lee Musiker, Mike Abene, Jame Chirillo, Jay Leonhart and Ms. Sherman are nicely tailored to her attributes. Musiker’s ethereal introduction for “Speak Low” and Abene’s clever chart on “Give Me the Simple Life” are highlights. There are fine solos from Flanagan, Barrett, Leonhart, Frank Wess, Ken Peplowski, Bucky Pizzarelli, Lou Marini, and George Young.

Originally Published