Lounge singer from the 1940s still sounds great on this 1985
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Discovered in 1937 with her swing version of "Loch Lomond," Maxine Sullivan has influenced dozens of followers with her remarkable talent and likable style, and in this 1985 CD, one of her last recordings, she's still holding court! In her mid-seventies when this was recorded, Sullivan works here with the great Scott Hamilton, singing swingy, moody ballads with minimal accompaniment--just piano, bass, guitar, sax, and soft percussion--keeping her sound mellow and understated throughout, sacrificing vocal fireworks for pure melody and rhythm.
Always under control, Sullivan's voice, with its reediness, blends exceptionally well with the tenor sax of Hamilton, and "Georgia On My Mind," shows both musicians to their best advantage. This is the jazziest song on the CD, and the most interpretive, as they explore the melodic possibilities, but Sullivan never raises her voice, and Hamilton remains restrained, both content to let the melody develop without pyrotechnics. "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues" is melancholy, the accompaniment kept subdued, until Hamilton's wailing sax takes the blues to a new level. The climax of the CD is "Just One of Those Things," with a long bass solo (Phil Flanigan) and soft percussion (Chuck Riggs) playing for most of the number, and the guitar (Chris Flory) added to set off Sullivan's voice in this longest number on the CD.
Traditional, quiet, and subtle, "Uptown" features wonderful musicianship developed by one of the early stars of jazz and swing in a CD which emphasizes the subtlety of the music, its control, and its intimacy. In fine voice on this album, Sullivan died about eighteen months after recording it. Mary Whipple