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Speak Beak by Regina "Beaky" Johnston

In a day and age when female jazz vocalists are returning to the popular music scene, the industry and the artists run the risk of turning out works that "fit the formula". Thus succumbing to the cookie-cutter approach to producing young new artists. Regina "Beaky" Johnston’s debut CD "Speak Beak" has managed to avoid this. Beaky delivers an honest interpretation of some old familiar standards and some new compositions, swinging through the songs in a way that is unique to Beaky. Her choice of songs enable the listener to get a good sense of what she likes to do, and what she does well. Her opening tune Moonlight in Vermont is a good example of this. She delivers a swinging interpretation, then lets her supporting cast of fine musicians set the tone for the rest of the disc. Speak Beak is a strong first showing for Ms. Johnston.

Hunter Adams (Piano) made a significant contribution to the quality of this project through his work on the arrangements, and assembling a quality band to back Beaky. Along with Adams, Carl Coan on Saxophone and Michael Ross on Guitar were supported strongly by the rhythm section of Marc Piane on bass and Tyrone Blair on drums. I was also impressed by the engineering quality of this disc. The choice of recording setup for Beaky gives her the added quality of recording through a vintage microphone, and the engineers deliver the essence of what is Beaky’s unique voice.

If there is a weak point in this work, then it comes during Beaky’s interpretation of Skylark. This is the only song on the disc where Beaky sounds strained and appears to be stretching to get the range and tone right for her, and for the song. All other selections fit well into Beaky’s range and capability and enable her unique voice to flourish. Strong showings include Black Coffee, The Man I Love and the steaming Angel Eyes.

Good song choices, solid backing musicians, and excellent production make this debut CD a winner.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Regina "Beaky" Johnston
  • CD Title: Speak Beak
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Southport
  • Tracks: Skylark is a showcase selection for this new talent, showcasing her vocal gifts!
  • Musicians: Beaky, vocals. Guest artists.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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