Lush Life (2001)

Chaplin, Hagen, Anderson, Bloch, Mandel, Bonfa, Strayhorn, Gershwin, Burke, Dubin

Jacintha

Might as well admit my bias: Jacintha has become one of my favorite living female vocalists. I initially came across her work when my friend Paul Seydor, a senior writer for The Absolute Sound, gave me a copy of her first Groove Note album Here’s to Ben, a tribute to legendary tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. I don’t know which impressed me more: the lushness of her voice or the vividness of her interpretations.

My enthusiasm intensified with her second Groove Note album Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer, which I reviewed. I likened my experience to being the last person in a small jazz club where she creates a direct link among her, the microphone, and the listener.

The immediacy is uncommon. The sound of her breathing, which would be intrusive in other singers, is so sensuous that it adds to the beauty of her voice. The perfection of her diction is so palpable that you don’t just hear the words — you feel their significance.

Now, in her third Groove Note album Lush Life, she sounds even more sensuous while a new musical background “strings” has been added to what so far has been a compact jazz-group accompaniment. Although jazz and strings aren’t often paired, they can go together nicely. Clifford Brown worked with them. So have Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, and Shirley Horn, to name a few great jazz interpreters of the American songbook. But these are strings with a difference, thanks to Bill Cunliffe’s remarkable arrangements. A pianist and a composer, Cunliffe received a classical musical education at Duke University before switching to jazz.

* NativeDSD makes this recording available for the first time as a DSD Download to a wider audience, outside the US and Canada.

* NativeDSD exclusively offers this recording as DSD 128 and DSD 256 Downloads (see Tech Specs for more info).
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Jacintha

Jacintha is a popular vocalist, actress and journalist known for her performances and writing in both the United States and Singapore. She was born in 1957 to musician parents, the Sri Lankan classical guitarist Alex Abisheganaden, a recipient of the Cultural Medallion, and a Chinese mother who sang and played the piano. She studied piano and voice from her early teens and also sang in the Singapore Youth Choir, where she met her future collaborator Dick Lee.

Growing up, Jacintha listened to a wide variety of music – not only vocal jazz and traditional pop, but also artists who ranged from Stevie Wonder to Joni Mitchell to South African singer Miriam Makeba. Jacintha was a big fan of Brazilian bandleader Sergio Mendes during her upbringing. Jacintha was educated at Marymount Convent School, Raffles Institution and the National University of Singapore, where she graduated with an honors degree in English. She then went to America where she studied creative writing at Harvard University. Jacintha first came to prominence in 1976 when she won a local television talent contest, Talentime, singing jazz. She continued this winning streak in 1981, when she nabbed the Best Female Performer award for her role as Nurse Angamuthu in General Hospital at the Drama Festival.

In 1983, Jacintha released her debut album Silence. The new wave album, containing a cover of the Bee Gees' "Run to Me", was reviewed positively, with The Straits Times calling it "probably the most impressive debut album...from a local singer." In the mid-1990s, actor Lim Kay Tong introduced Jacintha to Ying Tan, who signed her to his Groove Note label. Her first jazz album was released in 1998: Here's To Ben – A Vocal Tribute To Ben Webster. Jacintha's second album for the Groove Note label, Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (1999) has seen the title track being used for TV series Alias, while the bonus track "Here's to Life" was used as the title track for the Hollywood movie Play It to the Bone.

In 2004, Jacintha performed her own cabaret jazz show, The Angina Monologues at the Old Parliament House, Singapore. In 2006, she served as a judge on the second season of Singapore Idol. In 2012, she returned to the stage after 13 years, playing herself in Ong Keng Sen's National Broadway Company, a musical commissioned for the Esplanade – Theatre on the Bay's 10th anniversary.

photo: from booklet 'The Girl from Bossa Nova'

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Lush Life (2001)

Chaplin, Hagen, Anderson, Bloch, Mandel, Bonfa, Strayhorn, Gershwin, Burke, Dubin

Jacintha

    Jazz Review

Please allow me to introduce you to a new listening talent, a woman whose jazz vocals and sensual voice will define a new, pleasing form of mellow sound for those who come into contact with her voice. Her name is Jacintha. There is no voice that can compare to Jacintha simply because it is a unique voice unto itself, and there is a wonderful, sweet, mellow magic about her voice. There are 10 selections on this collection, each one a jazz standard. Songs include: "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Black Coffee," "Summertime," "Lush Life," "Manha De Carnival," "The Shadow of Your Smile," "When the World Was Young," "September Song," "Harlem Nocturne," and "Smile." Jacintha is accompanied by the sounds of Anthony Wilson on guitar, Dmitri Matheny on flugelhorn, and Bill Cunliffe does all string arrangements and plays the piano. Darek Oles is on bass, and there is a tremendous amount of talent shared by the musicians playing the violins, violas, celli, and the gifted Amy Shulman on the harp. Frank Marocco plays accordion on the intricate "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Jacintha has flawless phrasing, her voice so clear and inviting that the listener is part of every image. This is a collection where the sharing of feeling between singer and listeners is very evident and enjoyable. "Lush Life" is a showcase collection for the vocals of Jacintha. Her version of "Smile" is one of the most beautiful ever recorded and a gem of a listening experience. Bill Cunliffe's piano stylings are a perfect background for the voice of Jacintha. Buy this album when you come across it and enjoy the voice of one of the finest jazz vocalists to come on the scene in a long time. Jacintha has one of the most intimate jazz voices in the contemporary jazz scene. A lovely, powerhouse of a recording, "Lush Life" is a definite winner and entertainment at its best. Jacintha will touch your heart, mind, and soul with her beautiful jazz singing.

Lee Prosser

    AllMusic -

This is Jacintha's third album for Groove Note and her first with strings. Very popular in her native Singapore, she's beginning to get a worldwide reputation, and this release demonstrates why: Her voice is lovely, with clear diction and expressive, naturalistic phrasing. She draws the listener into a warm intimacy from the first track, "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams," a rarely covered and beautiful song with the perfect "rainy night in Paris" ambience supplied by Frank Marocco on accordion. Other highlights include a bluesy but refreshingly non-wailing "Black Coffee," with a fine, understated solo by Bill Cunliffe on piano; he's also good on the silky bossa nova "Manha de Carnival," where Anthony Wilson's melodic plucking contrasts nicely with the smoothness of the strings. Another unusual but happy choice, "When We Were Young," showcases the superb flügelhorn of Dmitri Matheny, which enhances four other tracks as well. Eight of the ten selections are ballads and, since Jacintha delivers her message straight and serene, the overall feel is quiet, sultry, and relaxing. After slow readings of "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Lush Life," and "September Song," Joe LaBarbera's brushes and drum accents on "Harlem Nocturne" provide a welcome texture and pulse. The surprise of the album is the startlingly original, soaring introduction to the vastly overplayed "Summertime," where Cunliffe's string arrangement evokes both Gershwin and modern French composers. This is excellent late-night listening; the local male vote was "mesmerizing."

Judith Schlesinger[read full review]

    All About Jazz

This singer from Singapore grows with each album she cuts, and she continues her development on her third for the Groove Note label. Jacintha has for the first time added a bevy of silky strings to the instrumental backdrop on some tracks to augment the contributions of rhythm, flugelhorn, and accordion. The program is made up of well-known standards. But they are given a reworking by the fresh arrangements of pianist Bill Cunliffe and certainly by the husky, smokey, sensual vocal styling of Jacintha who is emerging as a leading interpreter of romantic ballads from the Great American Popular Songbook. While her version of "Black Coffee" won't make one forget the inimitable recordings by Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae, it certainly holds its own with these two definitive performances. She gets sympathetic support by Cunliffe on piano and his fellow members of the rhythm section, Darek Oles and Joe LaBarbera. "September Song" has the same backing with the extra added attraction of Dmitri Matheny's smooth flugelhorn. Jacintha also shows that on those tracks, she is in control, rather than the other way around. On such cuts as a lovely "When the World Was Young", her voice floats atop the string accompaniment rather than having to fight it. This happy situation is due in no small part to Cunliffe's arranging skills. Even the 1933 over blown "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" gets a new look from Jacintha and is a perfect example of her ability to insert just the right level of emotional commitment to a song to bring out its best. She never lets herself become cloying and maudlin which is easy to do on an album made up of slow songs of yearning and passion. This album of romantic ballads is one of the best to hit the streets so far this year and is highly recommended.

Dave Nathan[read full review]

    Positive Feedback (10+10+10) -

Ying Tan has produced an instant classic with his third album by Jacintha. Seriously, Lush Life is one of the most outstanding female vocal jazz albums I’ve heard in many years. Jacintha’s vocals are silky, smooth, sensuous, and seductive. Her intonation, phrasing, breath control, and vocal modulation are quite phenomenal. The lush recording quality that Joe Harley has achieved lets anyone who has never understood the definition of palpable presence suddenly see the light. The instrumental timbres are captured with great clarity, nothing is buried in the mix, and there’s a lot of outstanding instrumental work. The flugelhorn is particularly mesmerizing, and Bill Cunliffe’s piano work is a joy. The orchestra, present on most of the cuts, is arranged with taste and restraint. It would have been easy to get carried away, but Bill Cunliffe did not. Although the album was multimiked due to the sheer number of instruments, I do not find this objectionable. Great care was obviously taken with the microphone setup, the mixing, and the mastering (by Bernie Grundman). The result is that the vocals and instrumentals sound like a coherent whole within a believable soundstage. This is an album of jazz standards, including Black Coffee, Summertime, Lush Life, and September Song, as well as one Latin piece. The interaction of piano, bass, drums, and flugelhorn creates a very atmospheric and introspective ambience. If you badly need to relax, toss this album on the turntable, and it should do the job. If it doesn’t transport you to a more mellow state of mind, you’re in bad shape indeed. It’s like I’d left the front door unlocked and she had somehow slipped into my listening room (in a singing mood, yet). Harlem Nocturne must be heard to be believed. The phrase "palpable presence" doesn’t do this justice. How about "phenomenally plausible palpable presence, plus?" And there’s more of that mellow, tasteful flugelhorn. If you own this album, keep it in a safe place, and if you need something to amaze your audiophile chums, pull it out and play it. They’ll be suitably impressed. My hat’s off to Ying Tan, Joe Harley, Bill Cunliffe, Bernie Grundman, and everyone else who made this recording a reality. It’s a knockout, and it deserves my highest recommendation. Please support Ying Tan and colleagues and buy it. Rating: Sound - 10 out of 10 Performance - 10 out of 10 Music - 10 out of 10

Dave Glackin[read full review]

Lush Life (2001)

Chaplin, Hagen, Anderson, Bloch, Mandel, Bonfa, Strayhorn, Gershwin, Burke, Dubin

Jacintha

Cables: Audio Quest
Digital Converters: EMM Labs ADC8
Editing Software: Sony Sonoma with DSD Wide
Mastering Engineer: David Glasser, Airshow Mastering
Mastering Room: DSD 128 and DSD 256 Download Files Created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab, Marshfield, MA
Microphones: AKG C-12, C-24, C-12A, Neumann M-249, M-50, M-49, U-67, U-47FET, Sony C-55P, Sennheiser 441, 421
Notes:

We are pleased to announce the availability of Groove Note releases in DSD 128 and DSD 256, in addition to the original DSD 64 releases. These higher bit rate DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases are all pure DSD created by NativeDSD Mastering Engineer Tom Caulfield. They are not up samplings, for there are no PCM or DXD conversions involved in their production. They are re-modulations of the original DSD 64 encoding modulation that produced the DSD 64 releases. The sonic advantage to these new Stereo and Multichannel DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases, as with all higher DSD bit rate releases, is the wider frequency passband prior to the onset of modulation noise.This results in the listener’s DAC using gentler and more phase linear filters for playback of the music.

Producer: Joe Harley
Recording Engineer: Michael Ross
Recording location: Ocean Way Recording, Hollywood CA.
Recording Software: Sony Sonoma
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 64fs

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GRV1011: Lush Life
00:57:48   Select quality & channels above
Tracks.
1.
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Dubin
00:04:55   Select quality & channels above
2.
Black Coffee
Burke
00:06:39   Select quality & channels above
3.
Summertime
Gershwin
00:06:13   Select quality & channels above
4.
Lush Life
Strayhorn
00:06:19   Select quality & channels above
5.
Manha De Carnival
Bonfa
00:06:11   Select quality & channels above
6.
Shadow Of Your Smile
Mandel
00:05:12   Select quality & channels above
7.
When The World Was Young
Bloch
00:08:23   Select quality & channels above
8.
September Song
Anderson
00:05:09   Select quality & channels above
9.
Harlem Nocturne
Hagen
00:06:20   Select quality & channels above
10.
Smile
Chaplin
00:02:27   Select quality & channels above

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