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Julie Kelly: Happy to Be

Listening to Julie Kelly, it’s hard not to be reminded of her fellow West Coaster Rebecca Kilgore. Kelly, whose recording career enters its third decade with Happy to Be, her eighth release, shares Kilgore’s crystal-clear phrasing, her effortless way with a lyric and her ability to shape richly imagined playlists, intriguingly disparate sets that draw upon profound musical knowledge.

In tandem with 11 of L.A.’s foremost players, anchored by Bill Cunliffe, alternating between piano and synthesizer, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe LaBarbera, Kelly opens with Phoebe Snow’s dreamy “Harpo’s Blues,” jumps to the boppish bounce of the title track, a clever salute to Bobby McFerrin co-written by Bill Peterson and Inga Swearingen, slows again for Dave Frishberg’s gentle “Our Love Rolls On,” then navigates a freewheeling sashay through Bob Dorough’s lighthearted “You’re the Dangerous Type.”

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