Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume One – A.T. Music LLC – SACD

Lyn Stanley – The Moonlight Sessions, Volume One – A.T. Music #3105 – stereo-only SACD and Vinyl, 51:00 ***:

A fantastic volume of standards, when can I get volume two?

(Lyn Stanley – vocals; Mike Garson, Christian Jacob, Tamir Hendelman – piano; Chuck Berghofer – bass; Ray Brinker, Bernie Dresel, Joe LaBarbara – drums; John Chiodini – guitar; Rob McChesney – trombone; Henrick Meurkens – harmonica; Luis Conte – percussion; Chuck Findley – trumpet; Rickey Woodard – tenor saxophone; Bob McChesney – trombone; Corky Hale, Carol Robins – Harp; Snaps – Steve Genewick)

When you look at the cover of Lyn’s latest release, you know you will be hearing a true class act. A black and white picture of the smiling singer graces the cover, and I’m already transported back to a first-rate 1940s jazz club. Another special treat: the liner notes feature a line from all of the songs, adding a poetic tone even before you hit play on the CD.

With this being an SACD, all the songs are beautifully performed and mixed well from start to finish. We kick it off with “All or Nothing at All,” where a plaintive trumpet solo immediately invokes a foggy night walk in the park, and the ensemble is in top form. I was immediately wishing I could see them live with a martini in my hand, but this recording is a marvelous option.

The musicians in this ensemble are some of the best jazz musicians I’ve heard in a long time. All of the instrumental solos were fantastic, and I especially adored Mike Garson’s piano solo on “My Funny Valentine,” which took the song to an introspective level not done before in other versions. The harmonica in “How Insensitive” was also a great choice.

The surprise song to me was “Crazy.”At first, I thought the jazz honky-tonk introduction wasn’t going to segue well, but I was wrong. I’ve never heard a jazz version of this Willie Nelson song quite like this, but I have to say this version was probably my favorite track on the album.

Stanley’s vocals are sultry but not husky, something I really appreciated. As a trained contralto myself, it’s easy to get gruff on those low notes sometimes when it’s not needed. She makes excellent vocal choices, subtly accenting all of those musical interpretations of moonlight. Notable performances include “Moonlight Serenade” and “Embraceable You.” Vocally I wanted to hear more of her higher range, and I’m hoping that this appears more in volume two.

If you aren’t able to see Lyn live, I would heartily recommend getting this album, playing this from start to finish on a moonlit night, and curling up in front of a fireplace with your favorite beverage. The music will curl up right with you.

Track Listing:
1. All or Nothing at All (feat. Christian Jacob)
2. Willow Weep for Me (feat. Tamir Hendelman)
3. Moonlight Serenade (feat. Christian Jacob)
4. My Funny Valentine (feat. Mike Garson)
5. Embraceable You (feat. Tamir Hendelman)
6. Why Don’t You Do Right?
7. Girl Talk (feat. Mike Garson)
8. Crazy (feat. Mike Garson)
9. Close Your Eyes (feat. Mike Garson)
10. How Insensitive (feat. Tamir Hendelman)
11. Break It to Me Gently (feat. Mike Garson)
12. In the Wee Small Hours

—Cecelia Otto

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