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.
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."
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.
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.
Sound - 10 out of 10
Performance - 10 out of 10
Music - 10 out of 10