LaVerne Butler – Love Lost And Found Again – HighNote Records HCD7239, 52:19 ****:
(LaVerne Butler – vocals; Houston Person – tenor sax 1/2/4/5/6/8/10; Bruce Barth – piano and arranger; Ugonna Okegwo – bass; Rudy Royston – drums)
Love Lost And Found Again is a fitting title to this wonderful release from an artist whose last recording was released in 2001. Blessed with a voice that conveys control of resonance and texture, Butler delivers a session with impeccable taste and panache.
Working with her longtime pianist and arranger Bruce Barth (he fulfilled the same role on her last release, A Foolish Thing To Do), Butler dives into an eclectic mix of pop and Broadway tunes that is designed to take full advantage of her impressive vocal skills. Making the undertaking all the more attractive is the participation of tenor man Houston Person, who offers elegant solos on all those tracks on which he plays.
Leading off with “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home”, Butler signifies that she is in control with a nuanced delivery, supported Person’s tenor playing adding the right amount of slow comfort. There are three lovely blues-based tracks starting with “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”, “The Bluest Blues” and “Travelin’ Light” that go right to the heart of the matter and blend Butler’s stylish and down-to-earth vocal approach along with Person’s quintessential tenor styling.
LaVerne Butler was born, raised, and educated in Louisiana, and subsequently moved to New York City in the mid-1980s. After singing in all the right places, she started recording and delivered a number of critically acclaimed discs. For some unexplained reason her career in the U.S. did not take off as might have been expected, but she discovered that her talents were more readily appreciated internationally, especially in the Far East.
On a recent return visit to New York and with minimal rehearsal time, Butler and the band went into a studio to lay down these tracks disproving the old adage “practice makes perfect” and confirming that “perfect is as perfect does”. While some may disagree with Butler’s up-tempo interpretation of “That’s All” compared to the Nat Cole version, it nevertheless shines in its own right. If there is a slight miss-step in these offerings, it might be with “In My Own Little Corner” by Rodgers and Hammerstein as it does not have the structure and lyrics that best suits Butler’s vocal capabilities.
Perhaps if the music gods shine a kindly light on LaVerne Butler’s efforts with this album, she might be inclined to spend more time singing in North America for which we would all be the beneficiaries.
TrackList: Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home; Be A Sweet Pumpkin; I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star; Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool; The Bluest Blues; Travelin’ Light; That’s All; Be Anything(But Be Mine); In My Own Little Corner; I’ll Never Be Free; Smile
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