By my own admission, I have a soft spot for balladeer Rebecca Parris. Rebecca was the first artist to send me a CD for review about five or six years ago. As in many other life events, the "first time" is never forgotten.
The Boston based singer has always favored the demanding art of the ballad and become a master. It's nice to see that she has now been signed by a major jazz label, making her music available to a wider audience. Rebecca carefully chooses songs that fit her gentle voice, then tweaks the lyrics and arrangement to her satisfaction. She commands the listener's attention by stretching some songs to more than eight minutes in length and this is not an easy task.
This session for Koch Jazz finds Ms. Parris in the company of the Austrian born pianist George Mesterhazy. Now living in New Jersey, Mesterhazy's piano, guitar and synthesized string accompaniment does justice to the singer's lush style. Add Scott Steed's acoustic bass plus Mac Gordy's sensitive brushing and a great trio emerges. This CD features Lover Man, Never Let Me Go, Body and Soul and the seldom heard When October Goes. There are nine lovely ballads in all. My personal favorites are "Crazy He Calls Me" and a super version of "The Shadow Of Your Smile."
Influenced by Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan, Rebecca continues to provide the jazz community of Boston with jazz ballads "done to perfection."