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Stevie Holland: More Than Words Can Say

You must have muscular chops to do what Stevie Holland attempts. You need a feel for jazz phrasing and, above all, you should be firmly rooted in theater. Holland has it all and succeeds beautifully.

The willowy blonde also writes impressive lyrics (check “Firefly”), but few singers can boast the conception provided by producer-arranger-conductor Gary William Friedman. Take Kenny Loggins’ “This Is It.” It begins simply with guitar. By the time the bass enters, it begins to build logically. Add the dramatic know-how of Holland’s voice and you have a complete theatrical experience. They do it with the Schwartz-Dietz classic “By Myself” and Lerner-Loewe’s “If Ever I Would Leave You.” (Being a lyricist, Holland knows how to bring out an internal rhyme like “springtime and spring, I’m.”)

Her cabaret instincts take a noxious novelty like “‘Murder, He Says'” and make every dumb word understandable. “Day by Day” swings confidently, with pianist Martin Bejerano descending at the end while Holland soars in the other direction. She feels right at home with the bossa phrasing of “Desafinado,” and her whole range of jazz dynamics emerges from Kern’s “Yesterdays.”

Originally Published