[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Singers & Standards

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 25 07:27:49 PST 2005

A review of another Jazz Singer who embraces "Standards". No doubt about it,
there is a trend among many jazz singers/musicians of going back into the
past and re-interpreting the music. (Not repeating it) Catch The Wave.

Steve Barbone


Delighting in a Wide Range of Joyful Jazz-Funk Noises

Am I scaring you? I hope so," the jazz-funk singer Ledisi called out
teasingly during her opening-night show on Wednesday evening at Le Jazz au
Bar. If her personality were a trifle less sunny, that playful question
might have been answered in the affirmative, because her sheer stamina is
daunting. But what's scary about a singer with no discernible axes to grind,
unless you consider the sage advice in her song "Stop Living in Your Head" a

Ledisi's application of her formidable voice to any number of soul, funk and
jazz hybrids, however, could be intimidating to singers who lack her wealth
of raw talent. Ledisi, who comes from San Francisco, is still at the early
stage of a career in which she takes a childlike delight in the variety of
vocal sounds (everything from screams and whoops to clucks and clicks) she
can produce. Her voice is her own portable playground.

As she rummaged through her bag of tricks on Wednesday, the most prominent
among many colliding influences included Chaka Khan, Sarah Vaughan and
Miriam Makeba. About half the songs in her set were originals from her
hard-to-find 2002 album, "Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue." Most of the
rest were standards, including " 'Round Midnight," "Summertime," "Yesterday"
and "In a Sentimental Mood." Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," wedded to
D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar," became a sizzling celebration of African-American

"Summertime" was cooked into an Afro-Cuban stew by the singer and her
jazz-funk trio, whose bassist, Mark Kelly; drummer, Charles Haynes; and
rough-and-tumble keyboardist, Robert Glasper, prodded and kicked her into
action. Her three-story rendition of "Yesterday" hurtled up an octave after
a relatively straightforward opening statement, then soared to a jazz-gospel

Ledisi did not explore her darker side, either emotionally or vocally.
Except for a few soft moments, she concentrated on bright, sassy declamation
that left the lower end of her voice largely untouched. The day she descends
into the basement may be the time to be frightened

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