Best Jazz singers

January 15, 2017

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What Is This Thing Called Love?

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Ted Rosenthal (piano), Jay Leonhart (bass), Victor Lewis (drums)


Composed by Cole Porter; arranged by Ann Hampton Callaway & Bill Mays.


Recorded: New York, March 4-8, 2008

Rating: 97/100

Jill_seifers--birdland_sessionsAnn Hampton Callaway is a graceful performer equally at home in the worlds of jazz and cabaret. In addition to many classic pop songs, her repertoire includes several of her own compositions which reflect and expand on the legacy of American Popular Song. Originally, I had planned to discuss one of her original songs, but this version of What Is This Thing Called Love? is a superb example of Callaway in a pure jazz vein.

Over a sinuous vamp figure, Callaway wraps her velvety alto voice around Cole Porters lyrics, making subtle variations to the melody. After the first chorus, Callaway yields to a piano solo, and one might think that the vocalist would be absent until the last chorus of the track.Stacey_kent--tender_trap But Callaway keeps herself involved in the arrangement and after a chorus of piano, shes back for a George Shearing-styled shout chorus which introduces short solos by bass and drums. Then, backed by only bass and drums, Callaway sings a bop-flavored scat solo that shows that she has learned equally from vocalists and instrumentalists alike. Indeed, Callaway is a pianist herself and like many of her contemporaries, her scatting is informed by her knowledge of chords and scales, and guided by her fine ear.

The Night We Called It A Day


Birdland Sessions (Koch Jazz 8574)

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Recorded: Birdland, New York, March 15 & 22, 1998

Rating: 100/100

Jill Seifers appeared on the New York scene a little more than a decade ago, made two wonderful albums on her own and appeared on recordings with Ingrid Jenson and Vincent Herring. She also worked in pop music, singing backups for Shawn Colvin and Jessica Simpson, and sang in a rock group called Yes Virginia. Shes now known as Jill Walsh, lives in Nashville, and has recorded several jazz duo albums with pianist Mika Pohjola.

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