Robin McKelle: Lover Man
Robin McKelle (vocals)
Modern Antique (Cheap Lullaby Records)
Robin McKelle (vocals),
Wayne Bergenon, Willie Murillo (trumpets), Andy Martin, Jason Thor (trombones), Dan Higgins, Ray Herrmann, Bob Shepard ; Mark Visher, Glen Berger (saxes), Alain Mallet (piano), Mike Velario (bass), Nathaniel Morton (drums), 15-piece string section.
Composed by James Davis, Roger Ramirez & James Sherman; arranged by Robin McKelle & Alain Mallet.
Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, June and August 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Featuring a decidedly funky bass solo by Mike Velario to start things off, Robin McKelle tackles the song made famous by Lady Day. In McKelle's version, the tempo is a bit more robust than the classic Holiday version, while the vocal expression plays nicely off the punctuating big band sound.
McKelle sings with confidence as she modulates her voice through the turns of this torch song with great aplomb. She has a strong instrument that is softened by her fine improvisational expressiveness and amazing control. She wisely shows restraint in not using her voice too gymnastically, though one can sense that she has the goods to compete for a gold medal if so inclined.
Alain Mallet takes a nice turn on a bluesy piano solo, while pumping trombones and crassly played trumpets expertly punctuate with authority in classic big band style. Mallet and McKelle should be applauded for their arrangement, which distinguishes this performance from most treatments of the song.
It is satisfying to hear a singer who can stand up to the muscular presence of a big band and more than hold her own. Robin McKelle effectively puts her mark on this song. While it will never replace Lady Day's, it is a fine addition to the standard's discography.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello