Brenda Earle Stokes: Solo Sessions Vol 1

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You have to be supremely confident to record alone with just your own voice and ability as a pianist to sustain you. Brenda Earle Stokes has that confidence as she demonstrates on the opening track If You Never Come To me where she sings in a bright, clear voice, uses dynamics carefully as she plays appropriate piano chords to back her voice and adds a solo on the keyboard.

Her own composition Standing, which follows, is not such an impressive song although she does improvise on it effectively on piano. Weaver Of Dreams however is a sturdy standard and although she sings it well and provides backing chords this is a track I felt it needed a bass and drums to give it substance. Her piano solo is good here, it is just that the performance overall required a thicker texture. 

Overall I was much more impressed by Ms Earle Stokes as a jazz pianist than as a vocalist. The same comment applies to the next few tracks including How Long which begins with bright, bluesy chords but lacks something in the vocal performance. Even so this is one of the best tracks on the CD along with a neat reading of East Of The Sun, the type of song that makes it easy for a good vocalist to shine on.

The rarely heard Ladies In Mercedes does not quite work with tinkling piano and rather bleak singing. Dave Brubeck’s Strange Meadowlark worked well in the composer’s time signature recording but again is somewhat thin with just voice and piano. As with all these tracks there is a strong, improvised piano solo which prompts the thought that if Ms Earle Stokes wanted to impress as a solo performer she might have been better advised to make a straightahead solo piano disc.

Discography
If You Never Come To Me; Standing; Weaver Of Dreams; The Consequences Of Falling; How Long Has That Evening Train Bee Gone; Ladies In Mercedes; I Can Let Go Now; Strange Meadowlark; The Power Of Love; The Waltz; East Of The Sun (51.17)
Stokes (p, v). Ontario, Canada, 28 June 2019.
ASNM 007