Judy Niemack: Beautiful Love
Judy Niemack (vocals)
In The Sundance (Blujazz 3374)
Composed by Victor Young, Wayne King, Egbert Van Alstyne and Haven Gillespe.
Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, date not given. Released May 2009.
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Niemack is a singer's singer who has never quite achieved the name recognition she deserves. Her formal training, plus private lessons with Warne Marsh, gave her a foundation from which to develop a technically flawless and adventurous style. Her warm, clear, and powerful voice, and improvisational (scatting) and composing abilities comprise elements of a complete jazz musician who just happens to use her voice as primary instrument or means of expression. Those who may remember her 1989 and 1992 recordings with Cedar Walton (Blue Bop) and Kenny Barron (Heart's Desire), respectively, will be delighted to learn that Niemack is, if anything, better than ever in the year 2009, as shown by her new (and 10th) CD, For the Sundance.
Her duet with bassist Rufus Reid on "Beautiful Love" is a stark, definitive example of what Niemack is all about. Her understated wordless intro is bolstered by Reid's sensitive and continuing commentary. The singer glides seamlessly into the standard's lyrics, her pliant voice shaping each phrase in a fresh and inventive manner. Niemack's scatted solo that follows is made that much more effective by the harmonic base she has established previously in her melodic exposition. She concludes by reexamining the lyrics even more creatively, this time breaking up the tempo and effortlessly revamping the expected phrase lengths in ways that are totally musical and invigorating, and never over the top. This is a masterfully realized duet performance, and essential listening for those already hip--or new to--Judy Niemack.
Reviewer: Scott Albin