This is jazz singer Nicole Henry’s eighth album and, coming as it does after a 10-year hiatus, very welcome it is. The meaning of the term “jazz singer” has undergone many changes over the years. In recent times, it has been applied to singers with few if any jazz sensibilities, and inevitably that has deterred many listeners with memories of bygone singers. Those listeners need have no fears about Henry because she is the real thing.
Intense yet relaxed (and, no, that’s not paradoxical), she finds nuances in phrasing that bring fresh understanding to the listener. Her vocal sound is richly melodic and she interprets lyrics with thoughtful care. Throughout, she swings stylishly and is very well backed by the core quartet of pianist Pete Wallace, guitarist Aaron Lebos, bassist Eric England and drummer David Chiverton.
There are no weak moments among the songs Henry has chosen, which include some well known through other artists: Joan Armatrading’s Love And Affection and James Taylor’s Your Smiling Face (on which saxophonist John Michalak solos). Among the other instrumental soloists heard is flugelhornist Jean Caze on Until It’s Time For You To Go.
However, the spotlight is focused at all times on Henry and nowhere is she anything less than excellent. Emotionally warm, stylistically elegant, musically flawless, this is contemporary jazz singing at its very best and, if measured against past masters of the genre would rate very highly indeed. Very warmly recommended to those who like the real thing.
Feeling Good; Midnight At The Oasis; Your Smiling Face; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Is It A Crime; Until It’s Time For You To Go; Wild Is The Wind; Love And Affection; Overjoyed (49.44)
Henry (v) with Peter Wallace (p, kyb); Aaron Lebos (g); Eric England (b); David Chiverton (d); and others inc. Jean Caze (flh); John Michalak, Troy Roberts (s); Gregoire Marét (hca). Location and date unknown.
Banister Records BAN1029