Australian-born vocalist Gemma Sherry has been resident in NYC and Philadelphia since 2010, and studied vocal improvisation at the New School under Billy Harper. In Songs I Love, the well-chosen programme contains classic ballads of established pedigree for interpretation by jazz vocalists.
Gemma has a soft, gently expressive voice, light in timbre and never strident. She phrases tastefully to convey the winsomely romantic or wryly reflective nature of the ballads with delicate but sure-footed rhythmic inflections.
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Blame It On My Youth and Lush Life (not the easiest of songs) are particularly well performed, while Satin Doll brings some brighter strolling swing to a predominantly laid-back album. Horace Silver’s Peace benefits from the addition of some stylish tenor, which would also have been a welcome bonus on some other tracks. The backing of the piano/bass duo provides accomplished and sensitive support.
Let’s Get Serious, a tongue-in-cheek title, features Gemma ln more light-hearted, breezy and varied style. The songs were all written between 1942 (when Peggy Lee recorded Why Don’t You Do Right with Benny Goodman) and 1962, with Carole King’s Go Away Little Boy. Amongst some familiar old standards are several seldom recorded songs, such as Try Your Wings, The Alley Cat Song, The Doodlin’ Song and Blossom Dearie’s Blossom’s Blues, all enjoyably revived. The very capable backing musicians swing along comfortably and are justly allocated some solo space throughout the tracks, with guitarist Paul Bollenback highlighted.
So, well-styled, enjoyable performances and a kindly bid to raise our spirits in these difficult days with light-hearted songs from less troubled times.
[Songs I Love] (1) Some Other Time; You Don’t Know What Love Is; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Satin Doll; Here’s That Rainy Day; Lush Life; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; When Sunny Gets Blue; (2) Blame It On My Youth; (3) Peace; (1) You Go To My Head; Round Midnight; Save Your Love For Me (56.49)
(1) Sherry (v); Billy Woodman (p, arr); Mike White (b); Cheltenham, England, August 2019. (2) as (1) November 2017. (3) as (1) add Patsy Gamble (ts).
[Let’s Get Serious] Blossom’s Blues; Give Me The Simple Life; Too Much In Love To Care; Try Your Wings; The Alley Cat Song; The Gentleman Is A Dope; Why Don’t You Do Right; Whatever Lola Wants; Straighten Up And Fly Right; Go Away Little Boy; The Doodlin’ Song (44.32)
Sherry (v); Rick Germanson (p); Paul Bollenback (g); Eric Wheeler (b); George Coleman Jnr. (d); Joseph Doubleday (vib). Philadelphia, released 4 December 2020.