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Susannah McCorkle: From Broken Hearts to Blue Skies

Susannah McCorkle is one of those names you often hear in the company of phrases like “a singer’s singer” or “a musician’s singer.” Bear this in mind while listening to this tasty collection, because it helps one appreciate all the fine touches she applies to a performance-though it does little to explain her status as relatively unknown. Fame and fortune notwithstanding, this is a case study in versatility and the interpretive possibilities of popular song. There are a few languages on display (French and Portuguese in addition to English, both beautifully nuanced), and a few tributes, as well: Bessie Smith and Ray Charles get well done stylistic nods, but McCorkle’s way with Billie Holiday’s phrasing is uncanny, the more so for pianist Allen Farnham’s delightful impersonation of Teddy Wilson. The band includes Al Gafa on guitar, Steve Gilmore on bass, and Rich DeRosa on drums, with Jon Gordon and Dick Oatts on reeds, Greg Gisbert and John Fedchock on brass. Oatts is particularly noteworthy, and the ensemble and the arrangements are spot on throughout.

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