Operating mainly in the Oxfordshire and Berkshire region, Fleur Stevenson is a relaxed jazz vocalist with a bright voice, good phrasing and the ability to swing at any tempo. This is her first full-length CD and she has just the right support from the Billington trio. The pianist was also responsible for the arrangements. Ralph Mizraki on bass and Simon Price on drums complete a lively rhythm section.
Fleur begins this recital with Beautiful Love which she sings in confident mode at medium tempo and throws in some scatting. Misty Roses has a fairly dramatic treatment from the vocalist with the rhythm section cruising behind her. Lerner and Lowe’s lesser known Follow Me suits Fleur’s mid-tempo slow burn build up with, once again, sympathetic support from the gently flowing rhythm players. There is an air of casualness about tracks like this one which should not disguise the artistry behind the interpretation.
Fleur sings the verse before launching into a warm, relaxed sounding recital of The Nearness Of You. Ms Stevenson has the ability to put over divergent material in a personal style which although not fully developed yet will, I believe, in time mark her down as a top-flight jazz singer. Claire Martin has already sung her praises publicly and many more, I think, will follow.
The programme chosen here consists of well- and lesser-known standards and includes the unlikely, I Talk To The Wind, The McDonald/ Sinfield line from the original, classic King Crimson album. Any singer that can jump comfortably from You’d Be So Nice to this rock anthem piece is doing very well indeed. Her romantic ballad style is well represented by Can’t Help Falling In Love.
A final thought. Although much of the success of this CD is the combination of voice, good arrangements and rhythm backing, it is helped enormously by the first-class recording and sound balance achieved by Damon Sawyer at Crescent Records, Swindon. Sound engineers are rarely singled out for praise but in this case it would be a crime not to.
Beautiful Love; Misty Roses; Follow Me; The Nearness Of You; You’d Be So Nice To come Home To; Can’t Help Falling In Love; Teach Me Tonight; I Talk To The Wind; I Thought About You; Old Devil Moon; You Must Believe In Spring (51.08)
Stevenson (v); Pete Billington (p); Ralph Mizraki (b); Simon Price (d). Swindon, January 2019.