Mary Foster Conklin: These Precious Days

New Jersey born singer teams up with John Di Martino, Sara Caswell and others to jazz material ranging from Kurt Weill to Leonard Cohen

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Intent on a theatrical career, New Jersey born Mary Foster Conklin moved to New York where, in 1994, she joined Art Lillard’s Heavenly Band. This diversion prompted a change in her career plans and thereafter she sang in clubs across the USA, gradually developing a following.

Her own-name recording career began in 1998 with Crazy Eyes, which was followed in 2001 by You’d Be Paradise, 2006’s Blues For Breakfast and then 2016’s Photographs. Although her repertoire includes standards, she specialises in material written by female composers and lyricists, an interest pursued on her radio show A Broad Spectrum: the Ladies Of Jazz.

The songs chosen by Conklin for her new release include some that are familiar, such as September Song (Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson) and Heart’s Desire (Alan Broadbent & Dave Frishberg). Others are less familiar, although their composers are very well known – Rainbow (Melba Liston & Abbey Lincoln), Just For Now (Dory Previn & André Previn).

Incidentally, two songs have titles that are the same as those of better-known songs: Just A Little Lovin’ is here by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and Summertime is here by Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson.

Conklin’s rich vocal sound adds strength to the lyrics of the songs she sings and there is an undercurrent of jazz phrasing in her intense delivery. The instrumentalists here are collaborators rather than accompanists and pianist John Di Martino and violinist Sara Caswell both have several very good solos. There’s much to admire here and this album will have broad appeal.

Discography
Summertime; Some Cats Know; Just A Little Lovin’; Come In From The Rain; Scars; Just For Now; A Little White Ship; Heart’s Desire; Rainbow; Until It’s Time For You To Go; September Song (48.31)
Foster Conklin (v); John Di Martino (p, arr); Sara Caswell (vn); Guilherme Monteiro (g); Ed Howard (b); Samuel Torres (pc). Teaneck, NJ, 17 January 2022.
Mock Turtle Music MT00222