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Rebecca Parris: You Don’t Know Me

Billy Strayhorn may still have been shy of his 21st birthday when he wrote “Lush Life,” but it takes a singer of significant maturity, chronological or otherwise, to convincingly plumb the depths of its gin-soaked regret. Ditto “Yesterdays” and “Too Late Now.” Rebecca Parris, long hailed as the queen of the Boston jazz scene, is precisely such an artist.

Like Rosemary Clooney and Jimmy Scott, the two masters she most closely resembles and in whose exalted company she surely belongs, Parris favors unembellished storytelling that, on the naked strength of its deceptive simplicity, reverberates with hard-won, world-weary sagacity. It’s what makes her “Lush Life” good to the last wistful drop and ignites the ninth-inning wisdom of “Too Late Now.” It’s also what keeps her “My Ship,” gorgeously enriched by Gary Burton’s vibes, from capsizing in waves of dreamy sentimentality, lines her “Desafinado” with ripe sultriness, and what makes as informed an observer as Burton (who, along with fellow guest Houston Person, adds significantly to the disc’s burnished beauty) enthuse that, “when I play with Rebecca it makes me wish I could sing, too.”

Originally Published