Terrie Richards Alden: Voice With Heart

Terrie Richards Alden disproves the conventional wisdom that one should shun the singing spouses of instrumentalists. On her debut CD, guitarist Howard Alden’s wife unveils a fresh, youthful sound, sure intonation, relaxed time and the ability to perform in a swing context without resorting to campy period affectations. Voice With Heart’s 14 tracks allow ample solo space for the members of Ms. Alden’s airy all-star quartet, featuring Warren Vache on cornet and flugelhorn, bassist Michael Moore, drummer Jackie Williams and her guitarist-husband, with whom she co-arranged the material. The opening cuts offer a refreshing, unpretentious introduction to an appealing voice. But monotony begins to set in as the disc proceeds, owing to Alden’s stale repertoire (“Just One of Those Things,” “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You,” “Am I Blue?”), the limited colors of her pianoless backing group, the vocalist’s restrained musical and emotional dynamics and her carelessness with lyrics. (Someone should have stopped her from bungling the first line of “It’s Alright With Me” as well as the first word of the verse to “Dindi.”) The most memorable moments occur when the album’s format is altered: the voice and bass duet “Makin’ Whoopee”, Vache’s unexpected vocal contribution to “Talk to Me Baby,” Moore’s arco solo on “Ill Wind.” Unquestionably a promising debut, but Alden needs to find fresher material and open up emotionally in order to realize her considerable potential.