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on 3 June 2002
Having seen Lea DeLaria as a comedian (I was lucky enough not to arrive late, or sit in proximity to the front!) I gave this CD a listen more out of curiosity, having caught site of her singing on late night TV and finding myself oddly impressed. I can see why 'Play It Cool' has had such strong reviews. Here is a voice of extraordinary dexterity and versatility - yet so measured and centred. The arrangements of these standards are undoubtedly rich and nightclub evocative; but they are not at all obtrusive. Indeed often they complement the intensity of DeLaria's voice perfectly. Of course not everything is as it seems, and nor is it intended to be: there is more than a little tongue-in-cheek alongside the smoke and the swing. But that's how jazz song is meant to be. 'Cool' is the standout (or should I say stand-up?) number for me. But it is thankfully difficult to choose. In summary: Lea DeLaria is an extraordinary talent. She even refreshed these classics for someone more drenched in the avant and instrumental ends of jazz. But then I should have remembered: the songbook always speaks anew, and here it has found another compelling voice.
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on 13 September 2001
This recording is horribly overproduced. Delaria's undoubtedly lovely voice is clearly put through god knows what kind of processer to turn these numbers into unexciting wallpaper music. The stand-up comic's timing is evident in the delivery. Sometimes it works, but mainly it just sounds arch and mannered. I looked forward to hearing this disc, but I found nothing here for me. Not one to share with Sue Lawley.
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