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Deborah Winters: Lovers After All

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It would be unfair to refer to Deborah Winters as unvarnished, for she is about as polished as jazz vocalists come. But there is a back-to-basics purity about her work that is tremendously appealing. A longtime favorite among jazz-savvy San Franciscans, Winters is refreshingly free of affectation: no vocal acrobatics, no flashy gestures, no showboating-just good songs superbly, straightforwardly interpreted.

She tiptoes into the album, with silken, almost whispered readings of the title track and “How Am I to Know.” But don’t let the quietude fool you. There’s no lack of range or depth; she simply never overplays her hand. Her “Get Out of Town” is a perfect example, its gradual acceleration fueled by precisely the right blend of coquettishness and lust. So, too, her flawless reading of “The End of a Love Affair,” appreciating that it’s not a tale of woe but of self-pity, best told with a wry half-smile. And Winters’ gently beatific handling of Ellington’s “Come Sunday” is among the finest ever rendered. But equal credit for the album’s intrinsic loveliness must go to Peter Welker. He wrote all of the orchestral arrangements, demonstrating the same sort of sharp appreciation for Winters’ needs, wants and capabilities as Nelson Riddle had for Sinatra’s.

Originally Published