Lorraine Feather – Tales of the Unusual – Jazzed Media JM1056, 61:04 [Distr. by Allegro] *****:
Lorraine Feather, the daughter of jazz writer Leonard Feather, whose godmother was Billie Holiday, has been raved about as a jazz singer, songwriter and lyricist. This is either her 13th or 14th album, and one writer called her “a lyrical Dorothy Parker.” Her songs have been covered by such people as Diane Schuur, Kenny Rankin and Cleo Laine, and one of her specialties is creating fascinating new lyrics for tunes by Ellington, Rota and others.
Unlike some creators of highly original lyrics, she has the good alto voice to deliver them well, and the backing on this CD also serves her well. Among the able musicians on various of the 13 tracks are violinist Charles Bisharat, guitarist Grant Geissman, and pianists Shelly Berg and Russell Ferrante (the last two also contributed some of the music). The surreal black & white photography on the album also supports its concept.
The opening “The Hole in the Map” is a sort of silent movie thriller plot (dedicated to Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett), and on “Out There” her lyrics get into “X-Files” territory, and “Where Is Everybody” comes from the initial episode of The Twilight Zone. “Get a Room” has Feather’s take on over-making-out couples, and “I Took Your Hand” uses a waltz by Enrico Peranunzi to evoke the similar surrealistic feeling of Fellini’s films. But it is the music of the final track, “Ahh,” by Nino Rota – the composer of most of Fellini’s soundtrack music – that really catches my ear with the main theme from his classic Juliet of the Spirits.
There are so many female jazz vocalists recording today; it takes something really special in the way of voice, song selection, lyrics or instrumentation to interest me. Lorraine Feather has it.
The Hole in the Map, Off-the-Grid Girl, Where is Everybody?, The Usual Suspects, Five, Sweet Miriam, Out There, Get a Room, Cowbirds, I Took Your Hand, Indiana Lana, To Live Another Day, Ahh.
Trumpeter John Bailey, with a dream quartet- it’s all good…