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Robin McKelle: Introducing Robin McKelle

Robin McKelle is a native of Rochester, N.Y. Her career got a jump-start when she finished third in the 2004 Thelonious Monk Competition, and she is currently teaching voice at her alma mater, Berklee. Now she has arrived with a debut album that shows off her spectacular chops as well as her respect for big-band vocalizing.

Armed with an alto-to-soprano range and a natural instinct for jazz phrasing, McKelle swooped into L.A., and before you could say Willie Murillo-the producer who arranged and adapted a dozen vintage standards-she added her distinct interpretation to swingers such as “Night and Day” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (the ghosts of Nelson Riddle and Sy Oliver were in the studio) and lent heartfelt readings to “For All We Know” and “Dream.”

Robbie Wycoff duets with McKelle on “You Brought a New Kind of Love,” and their voices reveal a great musical chemistry. He captures the retro feel of “Yes My Darling Daughter” very effectively, but McKelle reaches her high point, literally, on “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Even though the chart is in too high of a key, she raises above it, with a piercing high F-sharp.

Robin McKelle-remember the name.

Originally Published