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Rita Edmond : Sketches of a Dream

It’s not often that a debut vocal album suggests the near-certitude of future greatness, but Rita Edmond’s Sketches of a Dream, for which she also shaped all the arrangements and served as her own producer, is of that rare ilk. Backed by a four-octave range and years of gospel-ignited seasoning across North America and Europe, Edmonds recalls two of the all-time greats, reflecting the vocal power and majesty of Sarah Vaughan, the impeccable timing and phrasing of Carmen McRae, and the intense, natural musicality of both. Put in more contemporary terms, she should, in time, become the equal of Dianne Reeves. Not that this collection of 16 standards is entirely flawless. Her percolated treatment of “All the Way” feels inappropriate (or perhaps it’s simply that, given Sinatra’s definitive version, it’s impossible to appreciate it any way other than his), and her “Almost Like Being in Love” comes across a little too urgent and shrill. But such are minor quibbles. The 14 remaining tracks are ideally realized and exquisitely crafted, particularly an unexpected but effective reading of “My Romance” considerably bouncier and more ebullient than most.

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