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Sylvia Brooks: Dangerous Liaisons

Christopher Loudon on new album from actress/singer Sylvia Brooks

Sylvia Brooks' album cover
Sylvia Brooks

Sylvia Brooks has the look of a classic Hollywood femme fatale, suggesting an auburn-haired variation on Veronica Lake with a hint of Rita Hayworth. And Brooks sings precisely the way she looks – a dark, smoky sound with impressive firepower that seems tailor-made for the sort of plush, palm-treed nightclubs that dotted L.A. in the 1940s and ’50s. Those intimate boîtes – spots like Ciro’s, The Tally-Ho, The Encore and the richly historied Cocoanut Grove – are gone now, but Brooks is rapidly emerging as an SRO favorite at the chic venues that have replaced them, including Catalina’s, the Jazz Bakery and Vitello’s Jazz and Supper Club.

Now, with the release of Brooks’ debut CD, the aptly titled Dangerous Liaisons, the wider world can share Los Angelinos’ discovery of her alluring sultriness. Brooks can swing hot and hard, as illustrated by a blistering “Never Dance” and an equally scorching “Sway.” She can also swing brightly, taking “Come Rain or Come Shine” at mid-tempo to ably capture the depth of the Arlen/Mercer gem’s ardor, and holding her torch high on a sweltering “When the Sun Comes Out.”

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