Lyn Stanley – Interludes – AT Music 3104 – stereo-only SACD, 58:44 ***1/2:
Jazz singer covers the classics on an SACD.
(Lyn Stanley – vocals; Bill Cunliffe – piano; Chuck Berghofer – bass; Ray Brinker – drums; John Ciodini – guitar; Rob McChesney – trombone; Henrick Meurkens – harmonica; Brad Dutz – percussion; Cecelia Tsan – cello; Mike Garson – piano; Paul Kreibich – drums; Steve Rawlins – finger snaps)
Unlike most vocalists, Lyn Stanley singing was a second act. After a career in advertising the Washington native trained as a ballroom dancer. She overcame a serious car accident to become a national champion. Stanley always had an interest in singing (with a keen appreciation for Judy Garland), and in 2010 pursued this dream. After just a few months of singing lessons, she recorded her successful debut, Lost In Romance. The album garnered international success. She followed with Potions (produced by Kenny Werner) which boasted a collection of 50’s-era tunes.
Stanley’s third album, Interludes is a veritable standard library of love songs.. With a jazz ensemble backing, the singer (who doubles as producer) envelops these songs with her sensual alto. The opening track is a Gershwin classic, “How Long Has This Been Going On”. Stanley eases into the melody and never tries to overpower it. There is a melancholic trombone solo by Bob McChesney who appears on several cuts. “Just One Of The Things” has been covered in a variety of arrangements. Here, a percussive up tempo almost big band treatment (with a brief transition) features nimble piano runs by Bill Cunliffe.
Still with tempo, “More Than You Know” is gentle swing and livelier than most covers. This represents Stanley’s most effective interaction with the combo. Her relaxed style is complementary. On “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”, there is a gypsy feel with Cecelia Tsan on cello and Henrick Meurkens on harmonica. Stanley’s evocative style shines on the romantic, “Last Tango In Paris”. Done with a basic quartet (piano, guitar, bass & drums) it is cinematic with a Latin essence. Adopting a sixties vibe, Stanley handles Billie Holiday (“Don’t Explain”) with a bossa nova arrangement. Her cover of the Alan & Marilyn Bergman Sinatra classic “Nice And Easy” is understated with some great piano licks by Cunliffe. It’s saucy but not derivative of “The Voice”.
Occasionally there are odd choices – namely a lounge version of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. While it is transformative of the composition, it seems out of place with the other tracks. Simply put, it lacks the requisite grit. “Black Velvet” with its Jimmy Rodgers and Mississippi references doesn’t lend itself to uptown interpretation. But when the singer concentrates on popular vocal tracks, the results are more accessible. Possibly the highlight of the album is the voice/guitar duet on “I’m A Fool To Want You”. The winsome expression is a better fit with her voice and understated delivery. This dynamic works on “It’s Crazy” and the atmospheric “In A Sentimental Mood” which is organically shaded by the cello and harmonica again.
The overall audio quality of this stereo SACD is excellent. Stanley’s vocals have a silky depth. The instruments are captured with acoustic crispness, whether it’s the trombone or a low-keyed cello, thanks to Bernie Grundman, Al Schmitt and Steve Genewick. At times the performances come across with too much restraint. It would have been nice to hear this singer really cut loose. [Amazon only lists the vinyl version (which some might say sounds better to some)…Ed.]
TrackList: How Long Has This Been Going On?; Just One Of Those Things; Black Velvet; More Than You Know; Boulevard Of Broken Dreams; Whole Lotta Love; Last Tango In Paris; Don’t Explain; Nice ‘N’ Easy; The Island; It’s Crazy; In A Sentimental Mood; I Was A Little Too Lonely; I’m A Fool To Want You