With this article, I inaugurate a new series of posts dedicated to the magical world of Vocal Jazz. You’ll find here a periodic selection of the best LPs that I had the opportunity to hear, and that I’m recommending to my readers. But, most important, you’ll have the possibility to enjoy some of the most beautiful and talented contemporary singers.
The first episode of the VOCAL JAZZ radar features six albums that I’ve picked one by one during the last two months. For each of these albums I wrote only a few introductory notes because in this case, more than any other article, I would like to leave as much space as possible to the music and these fantastic voices.
Enjoy this selection of albums, and stay tuned for the future episodes of the radar!
“Come Home”, by Rigmor Gustafsson
Rigmor Elisabeth Gustafsson is a Swedish jazz singer who has achieved large notoriety and even a number of prestigious awards, such as the Swedish Royal Musical Academy’s Jazz Award and a Swedish Grammy. She’s not only an acclaimed interpreter but she’s also the author of many of her songs. In her impressive career, she has already released nine albums in her own name, which all show an incessant desire to try new paths.
In her new LP, called Come Home, the singer interprets both original songs and covers. In both cases, the quality of the final result is a combination of her profound and characteristic voice, and the beautiful music played by the supporting trio, which consists of pianist Jonas Östholm, bassist Martin Höper and drummer Chris Montgomery.
My favourite songs of the LP are The Light Years, Twist in my Sobriety, and the final piece Come Home. The album is available for streaming from Spotify.
“First Instinct”, by Leala Cyr
The story of Leala Cyr tells of a musician who had started her career as a trumpet player, but who at one point discovered she had incredible singing skills. Today she is performing professionally across the globe, and in her new LP, named First Instinct, she showcases all of her capabilities as both musician and vocalist.
The album is excellent for both what concerns the quality of the music, and of course for the beautiful and shiny voice of the singer. My favourite songs of the LP are Give Me, Summertime, and the title track First Istinct. Cyr’s new album can be streamed from Spotify.
“Smolder”, by Kristen Lee Sergeant
American singer Kristen Lee Sergeant debuted in 2016 with her first record, Inside Out, which already achieved important mentions by Jazz critics for her particular style of “dramatic” singing. When we listen to her songs, in fact, we quickly recognize that she is theatrically trained: in her performances, it’s possible to appreciate a capacity of interpretation of the lyrics that goes well beyond the technical vocal aspect.
Smolder, Sergeant’s new release, showcases once again her particular style of singing but also her skills as a songwriter, arranger and also creative improviser. My favourite songs on the album are the single Balm/Burn and the impressive cover of These Foolish Things. The album can be streamed from Spotify.
“Sisters in Jazz”, Cæcilie Norby
Danish singer Cæcilie Norby has gained an important reputation in the world of vocal jazz and in her career she has already released many successful records where famous songs belonging to different genres have been reinterpreted through her particular voice (in this regard, it’s worth remembering that for about ten years she was also the singer of a rock band, the Frontline).
For her latest release, Sisters in Jazz, the singer has called for the support of an ensemble of all female musicians from several countries and generations: Italian pianist Rita Marcotulli, Czech saxophonist Nicole Johänntgen, Norwegian trumpet player Hildegunn Øiseth, Polish drummer Dorota Pietrowska and German bassist Lisa Wulff. Together, they play both song-classics by Betty Carter, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone or Abbey Lincoln, alongside with a few original compositions by Cæcilie Norby. My favourite songs of the album are Love Has Gone Away, First Conversation and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. The LP can be streamed from Spotify.
“Vintage”, by Beth Goldwater
Beth Goldwater is a singer and songwriter who grew up and settled down in the Philadelphia area. Her new album of Jazz standards, called Vintage, is a natural continuation of the work she did in her previous LP Seduisánte.
My favourite covers among those featured in Goldwater’s new album are Pheraps Pheraps Pheraps, Fly to the Moon, and the evergreens My Funny Valentine and What a Wonderful World. The album can be streamed on Spotify.
“Louder Every Minute”, by Susan Hanlon
Susan Hanlon is a singer & voice teacher in the Dallas area. Susan earned her M.A in Voice at The University of North Texas. Her graduate studies centred around vocal pedagogy and commercial vocal techniques.
Louder Every Minute, Susan’s new album, features original tunes in combination with arrangements of pop and jazz standards. My favourite songs of her new LP are Let Go, Blindsided, and You Take My Breath Away, and Wild Oranges & Butterflies. The album can be streamed on Spotify.
If you liked this selection of artists, you will love the playlist VOCAL JAZZ, which features the best singers of the last couple of years. More than 70 songs for many hours of crystalline beauty.