New York based actress and singer Sally Stark pays homage to jazz singer Maxine Sullivan on her newest release, Sally Stark Sings Maxine Sullivan
. Sullivan whose career was launched in 1937 with her rendition of the traditional Scottish ballad "Loch Lomand," also appeared on the Broadway stage, in motion pictures and with her husband, bandleader John Kirby on radio. Sally Stark’s career, which also has included New York musical theater and playing a cabaret singer on a television soap opera, has provided her the impetus to release this debut CD. The music on Sally Stark Sings Maxine Sullivan
is a collection of classic standards and jazz pieces that represent songs performed by and associated with Sullivan. They include the writing of Thomas "Fats" Waller, Victor Young and Johnny Mercer and Stark’s rendition of Sullivan’s initial hit recording "Loch Lomand."
Stark has an easy going and affable singing style with a clear delivery of the lyrics and a unique and personal vibrato. While Stark adequately navigates the more up tempo tunes on the recording such as Fats Waller’s "Someday Sweetheart," her talents are best exhibited on the mid tempo swingers like "Restless," "A Hundred Years From Today," "Harlem Butterfly," and the ballads like "Spring Isn’t Everything" and the traditional "Loch Lomand." Pianist Mike Abene’s arrangements also showcase the talents of a solidly swinging back up band that supports and never overpowers Stark’s vocals. Of particular note are trumpeter Warren Vache’s playing behind Stark on Johnny Mercer’s "Harlem Butterfly," and James Chirillo’s wonderfully minimal yet complete guitar accompaniment on ""Spring Isn’t Everything."
Stark’s CD is not "cutting edge" nor particularly adventurous musically as it was likely her intent was to reproduce the substance of Maxine Sullivan’s talents via her musical past rather than to break new ground. Stark provides good renditions of the timeless classics on the CD and for the listener who enjoys good straight ahead traditional swinging songs with an easy going and clear cut presentation, Sally Stark Sings Maxine Sullivan
would be a most welcome addition to a CD collection.