LP Number: Groove Note Records GRV1014-1
This album is a sheer joy to listen to from the first note. This may be Jacintha's best album yet. The silky, smooth, and sensuous voice of Jacintha is reproduced with an utterly natural quality, revealing every nuance of her phenomenal intonation, phrasing, breath control, and vocal modulation. On several cuts she is paired with saxophonist Harry Allen, who, along with Sonny Rollins, is one of my favorite living sax players. Jacintha's voice floats between the speakers in a truly palpable fashion, and if there is a microphone signature imparted to her voice, I sure can't detect it. The soundstage is wide open, and the instrumentalists are right there, with a relaxed sense of ease that imparts a distinctively life-like quality to the recording.
Ying Tan continues to do a consistently outstanding job with his Groove Note releases, and Joe Harley's production is impeccable. Ying's best releases fly in the face of the old rule that states that "The better the sound, the worse the performance [or music], and vice versa." A large number of Groove Note releases are now obvious exceptions to this "rule," and new examples keep coming out. In the past, Ying has typically issued a 33 rpm LP, packaged with a bonus 45 rpm disc, on which,n some of the cuts are repeated. But more recently, starting perhaps with his release of the LA Four's Just Friends album, Ying has chosen to release albums as two 45 rpm discs. The benefits of 45 rpm are known to anyone who has ever made the comparison with 33 rpm, and I wholeheartedly applaud this move to 45. The higher speed simply allows more subtlety and nuance to be cut into the grooves, and to be correspondingly reproduced.
If you've had a hard day and want to lose yourself in some great music with great sound, spin this vinyl (just remember to change the old 'table to 45 rpm first ...). This album is dedicated to Julie London, and in the liner notes the inestimable Robert E. Greene goes into some detail on why she was so influential, and how her songs are deserving of reinterpretation by a singer of Jacintha's capabilities, and of being recorded in state-of-the-art sound. The result is, to this listener, simply mesmerizing.
Jacintha injects a world of emotion into Willow Weep For Me, and the accompanying tenor sax work of Harry Allen is second to none. Jacintha's sultry voice heats up Something Cool, a fifties staple that is given a new interpretation here. Don't Smoke In Bed is suitably wistful. The classic Cry Me A River is sung with conviction and feeling. And so on.
My hat's off to Ying Tan, Joe Harley, Harry Allen, Bill Cunliffe, Bernie Grundman, and everyone else who made this recording a reality. It's a knockout, and it deserves my highest recommendation. Please support Ying Tan and colleagues and buy it. They merit your support. It doesn't get much better than this.