Universally singing is perceived as a form of art that requires a mellifluous voice, but sometimes there is more to it like a vocalist who can sing a tune that makes people turn their heads and listen with rapt attention like Margie Notte does. Though artists are advised not to make a live album unless they truly know what they are doing, fortunately for Notte, she does. Her latest release, Just You, Just Me & Friends was taped live at Cecil’s jazz club in Notte’s native state of New Jersey in April 2008. Produced by her saxophonist Don Braden, the album features a selection of jazz standards that bring out Notte’s strengths and her fine arsenal of vocal wares. Her vocal style keeps the air filled with glee tempered by music that has toes tapping and mouths smiling.
There is smoothness in her register that recalls of ‘50s jazz singers like Rosemary Clooney and Kay Starr, and starkly pronounced in tunes like "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered" and "Loverman." She has a a Harlequin-dreaminess in her vocal slides that makes listeners feel like they are having an intimate conversation with her, and she is addressing them specifically when she sings. She makes the tunes personable and relatable to every individual in the room, which causes her live album to be one of the most intimate experiences in your life. Her singing has a way of stripping an audience down to their most vulnerable state, and still feel safe in their nakedness. She makes it seem completely natural to be so bare in public. Such an experience can be overwhelming for many folks, but Notte’s gentleness makes it feel very comfortable and safe.
When the audience is not being stripped down to their bare essentials, they are tapping their feet to the infectious beat of the melodies like in the opener "Too Close For Comfort" and the closer "I Thought About You." Here, she exhibit’s a Tony Bennett-like flare in her giddy vocals, treating the verses like they were made to be sung with a bounce in her gait and a smile on her face. Braden’s smoking saxophone solo heightens the jolliness in "Too Close For Comfort" and Jason Leborek’s soft showering piano glitters in "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered" enhance the tune’s moonlight glow while purveying a spritz of giddiness in "Just You, Just Me."
Margie Notte sings these songs as if they were her own. They don’t feel dated but exist for the present in her delivery, kneading the songs perceptively into the audience’s sensory system in the most unobtrusive way. The song selection is just right to showcase Notte’s vocal wares while modernizing classic tunes. She sounds as good as the jazz singers of the ‘50s, but you never feel like you are living in any other time except today.