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Vanessa Rubin: Girl Talk

Cleveland, Ohio, native Rubin reinforces her status as a major jazz artist with her second CD for Telarc. This disc swings from start to finish, with drummer Lewis Nash and bassist David Williams providing the rhythmic pulse, and either pianist Cedar Walton or Larry Willis filling in the chords. Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander joins the group for three selections, while trombonist Steve Davis and tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson add their sonorous blend to four others.

Rubin takes as her theme love and romance as seen from the woman’s perspective. The concept works: as explained in Devra Hall’s well-written notes, Rubin succeeds at inflecting each lyric with her own personal life experiences. An energetic “Comes Love,” which opens the CD by informing the listener that “nothing can be done” in a case of true love, is followed by a corking version of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” that features Alexander’s spiraling tenor. Two duets with reigning vocal jazz queen Etta Jones, in which Rubin’s elegant approach contrasts nicely with Jones’ soulful growling, epitomize the friendly musical interplay heard throughout this CD. Rubin also includes one ballad-tempo original, “If You Ever Go Away,” as well as a Bill Withers song, “Whatever Happens,” and Walter Bishop Sr.’s humorous calypso tune “Sex Is a Misdemeanor.”

Girl Talk is a commendable and highly enjoyable effort by one of the top jazz singers in the world today.

Originally Published