Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Kellye Gray: Rendering (Grr8)

Review of album from Texas-born and bred jazz vocalist

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Kellye Gray album "Rendering"
Kellye Gray album “Rendering”

One of the finest jazz vocalists to emerge from Texas, Kellye Gray made an auspicious recording debut in 1990. Despite its success, within two years Standards in Gray was out of print, and remained so until Gray obtained the rights some two decades later. Come 2015, rather than simply reissue a 25th-anniversary edition, Gray set a more ambitious goal: to recreate five of those eight original tracks, add new material and package it in a two-disc set with a remastered Standards. Shaped, like its predecessor, in a Houston studio and recorded live in front of an audience of 30, with no rehearsals or retakes, Rendering features a quintet that includes two members—saxophonist Warren Sneed and drummer Sebastian Whittaker—from the original session.

Now as then, much of Gray’s work, as well as her phrasing and tone, suggests the elegant early albums of Nancy Wilson. But there remains another side to Gray: a fearlessly bold jazz stylist who knows no limits. Sometimes the bespoke Gray dominates, as on the tender “A Time for Love” and a sinfully alluring “How Long Has This Been Going On.” Most often, though, the two halves coexist within Gray’s artful arrangements, escalating from genteel to outré without ever betraying the song’s emotional core. Such arresting duality reaches its apex on the most unexpected of standards, “How Insensitive,” usually served with chilled regret but here progressing to near-insane anguish.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published