For her second Brownstone album , Sherri Roberts continues her trend of wisely choosing songs with personal meaning and evocative imagery that suit her style of cooling singing, similar to last year's album by Dominique Eade.
With clarity and a respectful adherence to lyrics, Roberts phrases in a way that elucidates meaning and avoids vocal detours that detract from appreciation of the song. Produced by bassist Harvie Swartz - known for his appreciation of the female voice - Dreamsville brings together a group of accompanying musicians who evoke the songs' inherent qualities by incorporating vocal phrasing into their solos, most particularly Chris Potter, who shines throughout the album with witty and on-the-mark solos.
Without introducing dynamics or scat, Roberts shows respect for the jazz idiom by singing on top of the changes, which "have their own story to tell." My favorite song on the album is Jobim's "Two Kites," arranged with cello and violin intro and a percolating percussion beneath Roberts' conversational style of presenting the fanciful lyrics. And yet, even the less common songs - ones that you normally don't hear sung on jazz or pop albums - inspire challenging but subdued instrumentation such as "Middle of the Night's" drumless back-up by bass and piano. Even Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville," which was popular when it was written, was lying in wait for rediscovery by someone like Roberts, whose long tones and coolness of style are appropriate for its ethereal elevations. Other songs rarely heard, unfortunately, but which Roberts records, fortunately, are Dave Brubeck's "Strange Meadowlark" and Gigi Gryce's "Social Call."
In Dreamsville Roberts makes an even stronger mark than before as a jazz-influenced interpreter of the American song and an appreciator of the possibilities of instrumental jazz standards for vocal expression.
Bill Donaldson, Marge Hofacres Jazz News
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