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Janice Borla: Lunar Octive

Borla is another case of talent deserving wider recognition. She heads the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp each summer at Illinois Benedictine College. As demonstrated by this album, she is adept at using her voice like an ensemble instrument as well as singing standards. Bill Evans’ “Five” kicks off the album, an angular melody that Borla sings as naturally as Monk’s more fluent “‘Round Midnight,” which comes later in the program. Her haunting wordless lead on Coltrane’s “Naima” is particularly effective, as is her spirited, Flora Purim-like take-off on John Abercrombie’s “Arcade.”

The singer’s partners (they are more than accompanists) include pianist Dan Haerle, bassist Bob Bowman, and drummer Jack Mouse, plus guests Art Davis (trumpet and fluegelhorn), Brad Stirtz (vibes), and Fareed Haque (guitar). The guitarist’s electronic effects add a bit of intrigue to “Five.” On “Arcade,” the vibes recall the late Eddie Costa. (Does anybody remember him?) Borla’s timbre is especially enhanced by the vibes. Bassist Bowman is invaluable throughout the session. – Owen Cordle

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