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Kristin Korb: Why Can’t You Behave

On her fourth CD, Korb dresses Cole Porter’s title tune in the blues and colors the word “baby” with insinuation worthy of Lil Green or Peggy Lee. She makes “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” a minor-key lament, “Estate” a langourous journey through summer and “Ev’rything I’ve Got” a good-natured taunt with hip rhythmic twists. Scatting with absolute allegiance to the changes, she trades fours with drummer Steve Barnes on “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key” and executes precise vocalise in unison with trombonist Andy Martin on pianist Llew Matthews’ “Cubano.”

Korb makes those vocal accomplishments and more while simultaneously serving as the bassist in her rhythm section; no overdubbing, no digital tricks.

Her swing, power and note choices on bass reflect those of her mentor Ray Brown. In her solo on “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” she is notably reminiscent of Brown following a spare Matthews piano chorus that goes to the Ellington heart of the piece. Korb’s arco work, the achilles heel of many a bassist, is round and true in her introduction to “Estate.”

Martin and guitarist Larry Koonse shine in their solo appearances. Accompanying and soloing, Matthews is impressive throughout. The 11 songs are set in carefully crafted, often cunning arrangements; for example, the incorporation of Victor Feldman’s “Seven Steps to Heaven” into “You’re Blasé,” for example, and stop-time sections in “You Stepped Out of a Dream.” A few years ago, Korb walked away from the academic life and leaped into jazz full-time. Dedicated to education, she’s doing a little teaching again at USC, but this album of first-rate singing and playing indicates a performance career ready to zoom.

Originally Published