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Ask Me Now by Barbara Montgomery

One of the great joys in listening to Jazz interpretations are the many variations offered up by musicians. Even though you may have heard Round Midnight a hundred times, by most accounts the interpretation is always different. There is some twist, or inflection that adds so much to the piece. Barbara Montgomery is one such example. Listening to her is akin to the sensation one feels experiencing the soothing crosswinds of the Caribbean. This recording is perfect for late night listening.

Barbara opens up with the haunting piece "Estate". Drummer Bobby Shomo's light yet effective drumming and the sultry trumpet work of Bob Meashey capture the moment beautifully. Barbara floats over the melody with such a seductive tone. Guitarist Steve Giordano's light strumming captivate a moment so special, and yet so inviting for the listener.

"Never Let Me Go" is one of those classic love songs that has remained in the vernacular of the American songbook for many years. Steve and Bob's opening moments set the mood for this elegant version. Barbara voice is an excellent example of how control, feeling, and emotion can combine to create an aura so confident and musical. Her approach reminds me of the great Helen Merrill. The chord changes are explored by her band to great effect and restraint.

Steve Meashey's bass intro again sets the mood for a quiet and yet inviting "Invitation". Barbara's voice emerges smoothly to sing the melody. Bob's ever present trumpet as well as Steve's always present guitar cascading Barbara's every note.

Even her rendition of a standard like "Skylark" is so special. Hanging on every word and phrasing like there is no tomorrow make this version a joy to the ears. Bob's trumpet work at times sounding distant (to great effect) compliments Barbara's voice perfectly.

Barbara's voice is never dominant. Always working within the framework of her band. She also has that uncanny ability to draw the listener into her world, and captivate them for the entire moment. Never losing her way and always true to the song. I can't recall ever hearing anyone sound quite like her. Her delivery, choice of material and ability to create an atmosphere like no other. Throughout this recording one is reminded of the great Sarah Vaughan's way of handling a ballad. Twisting, turning, weaving and riding along the melody. These trademarks are here. You will want to set your CD player to auto repeat. One can only hope that Barbara continue to record and offer many hours of joy to those who enjoy this kind of vocal artistry.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Barbara Montgomery
  • CD Title: Ask Me Now
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Mr. Bean & Bumpy Music
  • Musicians: Barbara Montgomery: Vocals; Steve Giordano: Guitar; Bob Meashey: Trumpet/ Flugelhorn; Steve Meashey: Bass; Bobby Shomo: Drums
  • Rating: Five Stars
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