Unless you’re cutting demos, it’s hard to figure why one singer, especially one with a perfectly decent voice of her own, would want to spend an entire album trying to ape others. Hero worship, I suppose; and Stephanie Nakasian isn’t short of heroes. Saluting 20 of the past century’s greatest female vocalists, Nakasian subtitles her disc, “a study of the great ladies of jazz.” Indeed, Nakasian bravely, if perhaps foolishly, attempts to imitate such inimitable singers as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. In theory, as demonstrated throughout Nakasian’s impressively sage liner notes, she understands every nuance of these giants. But theory and practice are entirely different matters.
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