At the tender age of 12, Barbara Levy Daniels (then known as Barbara Lyons) auditioned for the President of ABC Paramount Records, and, to confirm suspicions, Ray Charles was brought in for his opinion. He had just four words to say: "Sign her right away!" They did, and thus started a career that has proceeded in fits and starts but always to very positive musician and critic reviews. More, she has continued studies in jazz under such estimables as Sweet Honey in the Rock, Sheila Jordan, Mark Murphy, and others, presently under the tutelage of Nancy Kelly, who also produced and co-mixed/mastered Love Lost and Found. This is Daniels' third solo disc, and if I were to cite a genre, I'd have to say she's a straight-ahead jazz vocalist. That's not as common as one might think, as it forces the singer to really concentrate on subtleties rather than go crazy and crash through every genre border in sight (much as I love that sort of thing).
What also caught my interest was the inclusion of Warren Vache on cornet. You don't have to go much further than to say such and such a CD carries a cornet player in a clear front role rather than as background coloration, and I'm right away interested, Vache being frosting on the cake. His lines here, as you'd expect, are classy and captivating, a higher register contrast to Daniels' mid-range ground, and I have to say that, despite Barbara's strong affinities to Kelly, it appears Mark Murphy had a pronounced influence on the chanteuse because she favors his vocabulary, pace, and inflections. John DiMartino on piano sits to the side with grace and aplomb, the rest of the ensemble taking cues from him.
My favorite cut is Moonglow and Daniels invokes a lightly saxophonic rendering in various passages, the whole thing sounding a bit like a Rosemary Clooney who was listening to West Coast Cool, a bit of samba, and then taking the next step. But I really dig Barbara's more upbeat take on Willow Weep for Me as well. It's not one of the usual moony versions, which themselves are way cool, but instead a more muscular rebellion against the heartbreak being contemplated, a form of indignation lapsing into wistfulness just before re-emerging to begin the hunt anew for love. This is where the Kelly influence comes in. Catch Nancy's take on Misty, for instance (YouTube has a cool live version with her and Joey DeFrancesco) and you'll see what I'm taking about.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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