All things contain two aspects: a Yin aspect (shady side) and Yang aspect (sunny side). As a result, time can be divided into night and day, places into earth and heaven, species into male and female, etc. These qualities are opposites, yet still describe the relative aspects of the same occurrence and harmony is achieved when the two aspects coexist in equal quantities. When singing from the great American song book, giving new life and energy to the melodies heard so much can also be a study in the balance of Yin and Yang. Sing it straight with no ornaments and it is boring, ornament the melody too much and it starts to sound like an exercise or a completely different melody. Vocalist Jenny Davis has found that magical blending of the two aspects, creating a harmony of the two for our listening pleasure with It Amazes Me.
Davis learned the art of musical balance under the tutelage of renowned jazz vocalist Beth Winter and other greats such as Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Hadley Caliman, Randy Halberstadt, Chuck Deardorf, Jim Knapp and Julian Priester. Davis Graduated cum laude from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, where Davis was also awarded the coveted Maggie Hawthorne scholarship. While still a student a Cornish, eager to define what has become a passionate performance style, Davis started a jazz trio, sang lead vocals for Jim Knapp's Big Band and played virtually every jazz club in Seattle, including Jazz Alley.
Davis’ new CD, It Amazes Me is a collection of 12 standards and one original with a couple of pairings of songs that share the same harmonic structure, "What I’ll Do/The Tennessee Waltz" and "Scrapple From the Apple/Honeysuckle Rose." Davis’ warm alto voice always seems to find the balance between conveying the unadorned melody and adding ornaments to the melody that is both entraining and informative of the songs original meaning.
"It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)" exemplifies Davis’s ability to make a song mean a thing by finding the pulse of the song and swinging to it. Ted Enderle’s big bass sound provides the driving force for nice swinging solos by alto saxist Chuck Easton and pianist George Radebaugh.
Actually, most of the songs on the CD are swinging with the exception of "Dindi," which is played as an easy bossa. Thanks to Davis’ ability to play with the melody and the accompanying skills of the band, the listener will not fade to the Yin side and grow bored. There is a nice flow of tempos and instrumentation that keeps the Yin and Yang in balance.
Davis’s original, "Answer the Call," exhibits a talent for lyric writing as well as singing. "Don’t stay too long in sorrow. Just feel it, know it, live it. Then move on." Perhaps on the next CD outing the listeners will get to hear more of Davis’ lyrics.
Linger longer in swinging moments with Jenny Davis and let the balance in the music amaze you, It Amazes Me.