Kevyn Lettau – Songs Of The Police – Master Music XRCD24NT012, [6/17/14], 48:30 ****:
(Kevyn Lettau – vocals, background vocals, handclaps;; Russell Ferrante – piano, organ, Fender Rhodes keyboards; Jerry Watts Jr. – electric upright bass; Michael Shapiro – drums; Luis Conte – percussion; Linda Taylor – acoustic 12 string guitar, guitar; Neil Larson – organ; Scott Mayo – alto saxophone; Bill Cantos/Sharon Perry/Randy Crenshaw/Mindy Stein – background vocals; Jeff Babko – Fender Rhodes, piano; Gary Meek – tenor saxophone, woodwinds; Jeff Richman – guitar; Walt Fowler – trumpet; Jimmy Haslip – fretless bass; Walt Flower – trumpet; Michael Parker – orchestral percussion; Stefanie Fife – cello; Rudy Stein – cello; Bass string – David Carpenter; Darrin McCann – viola; Lens Grants – viola; Gina Kronstadt – concertmaster; Peter Kent/John Wittenberg/Charlie Bisharat/ Vladimir Polimitidi/ Kristin Fife – violin)
Kevyn Lettau grew up in Germany and moved to California with her parents when she was fourteen. There she developed an affinity for jazz music, and specifically Brazilian music. In the mid-80s she began an eight year association with Sergio Mendes. This led to her appreciation and skill development as a singer. After two critically acclaimed solo albums, she signed with JVC Records and released four more albums. In 2000, Lettau recorded an album of Police songs which was greeted enthusiastically by her fans and the musical community.
Songs Of The Police has been reissued by Master Music on XRCD. It is a meticulously arranged collection of Sting (with one co-writing credit to Andy Summers) compositions that benefits from the technological upgrade (re-mastered at JVC Mastering Studio). There is a contemporary jazz aesthetic that permeates the album. The opening track, “Message In The Bottle” translates to jazz structure (many of Sting’s songs do). Russell Ferrante’s ethereal piano surrounds the heartfelt singing on Lettau. String accompaniment adds some additional texture. There are several covers from Synchronicity, highlighting different styles. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” has a Latin-infused feel with lively percussion (Luis Conte) and acoustic guitar (Linda Taylor). Lettau changes the vibe on “Walking In Your Footsteps”, transforming it into a funk groove number (with Fender Rhodes help from Ferrante). Most of the Synchronicity works, especially the title song which emulates all of the quirky, syncopated riffs. The tenor saxophone (Gary Meek) and trumpet (Walt Flower) solos are nimble, and Lettau’s vocal range is impressive. “Every Breath You Take” has an interesting soul/gospel structure, but lacks the menacing undertone of the narrative.
Lettau is a gifted jazz singer, and “Murder By Numbers” is a perfect fit. The loping cadence allows the singer to stretch out and showcase her considerable phrasing talent and emotion. There is an unexpected voice/percussion duet on “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” that is inventive and festive. The elegant passion of “I Burn For You” is captured in lush, orchestrated tones approximating the hypnotic ambiance at the core.
The overall sound quality on this XRCD is dynamic, quite a bit better than a standard CD. All of the instrumentation is vibrant with supple layers. The Fender Rhodes sounds crisp, not merely atmospheric. Lettau’s voice is captured in its delicacy and power, always in a flow with the music. The mix is centered on the basic ensemble (voice, piano, bass, drum, percussion) and orchestral shading is subtle and not intrusive.
TrackList: Message In A Bottle; Wrapped Around Your Finger; Every Breath You Take; Murder By Numbers; Every Little Thing She (He) Does Is Magic; Walking In Your Footsteps; King Of Pain; When The World Is Running Down (Interlude); Synchronicity I; Don’t Stand So Close To Me; De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da; I Burn For You