FAME Review: Julie Kelly - Happy to Be
Julie Kelly - Happy to Be

Happy to Be

Julie Kelly

Jazzed Media - JM1067

Available from Jazzed Media.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

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.

Track List:

  • Harpo's Blues (Phoebe Snow)
  • Happy To Be (Peterson / Swearingen)
  • Our Love Rolls On (Dave Frishberg)
  • You're the Dangerous Type (Bob Dorough)
  • Corcovado (Jobim / Lees)
  • I Have the Feeling I've Been Here Before (Bergman / Bergman / Kellaway)
  • The Blues According To Orpheus (D'Angelo / Eames / Hocker / Kelly)
  • I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again (Ishiguro / Tomlinson)
  • I Never Went Away (Richard Rodney Bennett)
  • High In the Sky (Fleurine / Jones)
  • For Joni (Kelly / Marder)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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