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Amanda Carr : Common Thread with the Kenny Hadley Big Band

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Bostonian Amanda Carr can make the remarkable claim of having performed with the Artie Shaw, Harry James and Glenn Miller orchestras. True, they were all modern-day “ghost” versions of those classic outfits, but such experience finds her well prepared for her first big-band album, fronting the 16-piece ensemble that drummer Kenny Hadley has been leading on and off for more than 20 years. Hadley and Carr first teamed two years ago for Soon, a fine collection of standards in a small group setting that seemed ideally suited to her elegantly intuitive, Carmen McRae-meets-Nancy Wilson style.

That same vibe, sturdy enough to hold its own against a wall of brass yet never lacking in warmth or intimacy, serves her equally well across this multihued 15-track set. She can toss off upbeat swingers like “It’s a Big Wide Wonderful World” and “Don’cha Go ‘Way Mad” with the insouciant, penthouse sophistication of Lee Wiley, and just as winningly downshift to the cozier shimmer of “Just You, Just Me,” “There’s a Small Hotel” and “No Moon at All.” Which still leaves room for plenty of top-drawer balladry, particularly on a fog-bound “How Am I to Know” and a tenderly pensive “Something Wonderful Happens in Summer.”

Originally Published