That jazz singer Julie Kelly decided to kick off her debut Jazzed Media CD (but eighth disc overall, her name's a rather prized item on the West Coast) with Phoebe Snow's Harpo's Blues immediately informed me I'd have no problems whatsoever with the outing. Then I glanced at the musician roster. Good grief, What a line-up!: Bill Cunliffe, Joe LaBarbera, Bob Sheppard, Bob McChesney and seven other A-Listers. The rendering is lovely, a tribute to the late Snow, herself a unique and highly respected figure in the heyday. Then the boppy Happy to Be followed, and I smiled as my prefiguring crit-radar proved to have been on the money. Next came a Frishberg tune (Our Love Rolls On) with Bob Dorough's You're the Dangerous Type as chaser. Oh yessss!
The stutter-step breakups in The Blues According to Orpheus are a kick, as are the time shifts flanking them, Kelly's vocals smoothly sailing beside it all until things jump into the air to let Cunliffe have a synth organ-patch solo leading into Anthony Wilson's (Dianna Krall's prized axehandler) Martino-esque lead runs. For Joni, a tribute to the famed Miss Mitchell, briefly gauzily quotes several of that composer's famous ditties while poetically referencing the famed songstress throughout. Written by Kelly with Susan Marder, it forms a perfect denouement to the CD, but before it moodily appears in the line-up, there's a lot of pep and vigor.
My favorite cut is the earlier mentioned Happy to Be 'cause I have a strong affinity for the Swingle Singers, and there's a good deal of their bouncy positivity and complicated riffs here, well-seasoned with a bit of a harder jazz edge and some great Cunliffe activity larking about on the keys until the sax takes over, Kelly afterwards re-entering in scat time to either Bill's synth or the sax processed through an outboard (my guess? it's the synth in a kind of Rippington's or Azymuth riff). Oh, and in case you find yourself digging this slab as much as I do, you might want to check Kelly's backlog, as among her offerings is a tribute to June Christy. Siiiiigh! Man o man, the misty Miss Christy, how she's still missed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles