Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Men in My Life
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Broadway & Vocalists
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Part Norah Jones, Part Eva Cassidy, All Jackie Allen
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard Jackie Allen's "Which?" several years ago I remember falling in love with the song "Daydream." I was surprised that I hadn't heard this beautiful Ellington-Strayhorn number before, until I realized that I had the Ella Fitzgerald version in my collection and had listened to it many times. One of the characteristics of a great singer is her ability to make you listen to a song as if you're hearing it for the first time. That's what Jackie Allen does time and again on "The Men in My Life." Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Al Jarreau, Herb Alpert, James Taylor, Sting, Ray Charles, and Billy Eckstine are among the men whose music she performs on this CD. The influence of they've had on her musical style is evident as she offers up Paul Simon's melancholy, Al Jarreau's virtuosity, James Taylor's ease, Sting's intensity, Billy Eckstine's emotion, and Frank Sinatra's phrasing. But this CD is no trip down memory lane. The most important lesson she takes from all of these men is to make the songs her own.Allen's soft, breathy purr on "Come Fly With Me" may remind some listeners of Norah Jones and her heart felt poignancy on "Fools Rush In" and the Rodrigo part of "Spain" has an Eva Cassidy feel. But just as you classify her as a torch singer she shifts from sweet to sassy on "One Mint Julep" and her own "You Could Be Fred." She has surrounded herself with superb musicicans. John Moulder (guitar), Hans Sturm (bass), Dane Richeson (percussion), Ben Lewis (piano), Orbert Davis (trumpet), and vocalist Kurt Elling on the duet "The Bad and the Beautiful.""
Sensuality, Chops, Intelligence
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 08/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first caught Jackie ten or more years ago when she was working a lounge in Milwaukee with keyboardist Mel Rhyne. She was obviously a "natural," as talented and hip as she was wide-eyed and innocent (a Wisconsin wholesomeness). As this album will attest, she's wiser, more seasoned, and she's definitely outgrown Milwaukee.Jackie has a vocal quality to die for--it's warm, breathy, and sultry in the middle register, retains its lightness in the low tones but blossoms radiantly in the upper register (she must have a good 3 octaves at her disposal). The contour of her instrument is even--there are no detectable "breaks" between a chest and head voice, and there's never a sense that she's favoring a "comfort zone" of pitches. Yet she manages to impress you with her vocal strengths without seeming to try.There's an inherently folk-like timbre to Jackie's tones. Thank God, she chooses, for the most part, to eschew that genre (which the employment of guitar could make even more tempting). Individual tunes: Bill Evans demonstrated that, separated from its original context, Paul Simon's music ("I Do It for Your Love") could be transformed into something sublime. Unfortunately, Jackie doesn't make the same case for Simon's "Still Crazy." Also, the meterless treatment of Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love with You" risks rigor mortis, especially when guitarist Moulder lays out on the fills. And Jackie's "One Mint Julep" is likely to leave a hangover with its guitar-distorted, shot-and-a-beer treatment. But the other 8 tracks are all winners: there's no better voice than Jackie's for making "Come Fly with Me" an exotic trip to the South Seas, for executing the pyrotechnical phrasing of "Spain," for scatting good-naturedly on "You Could Be Fred," or restoring a pristine pathos to Mercer's lyric for "Fools Rush In".This is probably Jackie's best all-around album to date. Hearing her with this ensemble live, I realized what a strong stage presence she has despite occasionally shaky presentation. In these post-Ella, post-Sarah times, it must be tough to convince yourself you're the "star" and that your musicians are accompanists, not co-equals. The vocalist can afford to restrict both their solos and the mentioning of their names. And when the audio balance is off (most frequently, with overly amplified bass players), a glare or quick comment in the direction of the offending player or board operator can earn her important extra space. But in terms of this excellent CD the advantage is all in the listener's favor."
Another terrific, underrated vocal album
Rick Cornell | Reno, Nv USA | 03/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why are there so many fabulous woman jazz singers out there who are relatively unknown to the general population? I don't know; but here's another one, with a marvelous album. Jackie Allen has sort of a scratchy voice; but it's a pleasing scratchy. It reminds me a bit of Sheryl Crow's voice. As a result, when she delivers a song, it sounds authentic. (One exception: Bacharach's "This Guy's In Love With You" really was meant to be sung by a man) The sidemen on this album are just terrific, especially Ben Lewis (piano) and John Mulder (guitar). The guitar fills on "Come Fly With Me" and "Dindi" are wonderful, and the piano break on "Fools Rush In" is not only the highlight of this album, but also makes this rendition approach, if not top, the immortal one of Billy Eckstine. The whole thing is very tastefully done. Recommended, especially once it hits the bargain bin."