MARY STALLINGS, DON'T LOOK BACK


Mary Stallings is a brilliant jazz singer whose recent recordings have been revelatory in the way she takes on standards, both well known and obscure, and infuses them with a rewarding range of emotion, something many singers try to achieve but fall short of doing. "Don’t Look Back" (HighNote Records) is an extraordinary collection of songs that Ms. Stallings once again invests in fully and selflessly. Credit her 12-year association with pianist Eric Reed, a relationship as indelible as Ella Fitzgerald had with pianist Ellis Larkins on their classic duet records. Reed is a subtle arranger, reducing tunes like “Key Largo” and “People Time” to their essence by shaping music and voice into an organic whole. He’s also a masterful accompanist, a purveyor of swing and deeply felt soul either as a soloist or with bassist Rueben Rogers and drummer Carl Allen, both heavy hitters who provide Stallings with sublime support.

This candlelit album basks in the glow of blissful reminisces (the title tune), yearning come-ons (“The Way You Love Me”) and wistful connections (the one-take tour-de-force “Goodbye Medley”). The album balances such intimacy with a couple of blues and a breezy Reed original “Is That? (This Love)” that beams with good feelings. Recordings as good as "Don’t Look Back" don’t appear often and for this queen of song, who’s had a robust 50-year career, it’s a crowning achievement. (12 tracks; 60:14 minutes) www.jazzdepot.com 

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JAZZ IN SPACE: MARY STALLINGS, DON'T LOOK BACK

Saturday, June 30, 2012

MARY STALLINGS, DON'T LOOK BACK


Mary Stallings is a brilliant jazz singer whose recent recordings have been revelatory in the way she takes on standards, both well known and obscure, and infuses them with a rewarding range of emotion, something many singers try to achieve but fall short of doing. "Don’t Look Back" (HighNote Records) is an extraordinary collection of songs that Ms. Stallings once again invests in fully and selflessly. Credit her 12-year association with pianist Eric Reed, a relationship as indelible as Ella Fitzgerald had with pianist Ellis Larkins on their classic duet records. Reed is a subtle arranger, reducing tunes like “Key Largo” and “People Time” to their essence by shaping music and voice into an organic whole. He’s also a masterful accompanist, a purveyor of swing and deeply felt soul either as a soloist or with bassist Rueben Rogers and drummer Carl Allen, both heavy hitters who provide Stallings with sublime support.

This candlelit album basks in the glow of blissful reminisces (the title tune), yearning come-ons (“The Way You Love Me”) and wistful connections (the one-take tour-de-force “Goodbye Medley”). The album balances such intimacy with a couple of blues and a breezy Reed original “Is That? (This Love)” that beams with good feelings. Recordings as good as "Don’t Look Back" don’t appear often and for this queen of song, who’s had a robust 50-year career, it’s a crowning achievement. (12 tracks; 60:14 minutes) www.jazzdepot.com 

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