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Whitney Marchelle: Me, Marsalis, & Monk

Intriguing title, but it’s not a 3M trio: Marsalis is represented by an arrangement of one of his originals; three of the ten songs were written by Monk. The notes are vague, but then the sound seems uneven, having been engineered at five disparate venues — a fact touted by Etoile as “recorded nationally.” Yet I gladly recommend it.

Ms Marchelle lends a strong, rangy voice to an ambitious undertaking, and you don’t have to be an audiophile to appreciate good music. It’s good right from the top.

“Savannah” begins with a serpentine bass lick over which Marchelle literally floats. She soon displays her jazz chops as she scats along with tenorist Don Diego in a fine duet. Another highlight is apparently a well-kept secret: Monk’s beautifully re-harmonized line, “Pannonica,” made even richer, thanks to Jon Hendricks’ lyrics. Another Hendricks-style lyric can be heard on Marchell Jackson’s “What Jazz Is.”

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