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Lisa B: What’s New, Pussycat?

Based on a cursory glance at the album, its photos and liner notes, two things are obvious: Lisa B. (for Bernstein) is stunning and the entire session is devoted to cats. Which begs the categorical question: What’s a nice, good-looking girl like Lisa B. doing in a magazine like this? Doesn’t she or her publicists realize that JazzTimes deals with an entirely different breed of cat-some so ornery they may never become domesticated (or even housebroken)?

Having said that, I’ll review some vocal aspects of this non-jazz album. Lisa B. boasts a clear, rangy, pleasant voice, well suited for pop or even cabaret. That latter genre might explain Bernstein’s penchant for the spoken word, even whispering, but nothing can justify the occasional excursions into rap. Nor does it explain why she bends the meaning of “Night and Day” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” to fit her kitty agenda. Regarding the latter tune, pianist Frank Martin deserves kudos for his comping and solo work.

As for Bernstein’s five originals, she should take heed: The shortest distance between obscurity and oblivion may be a feline.

Originally Published