Vocalese; the art of writing lyrics to and singing classic jazz solo's, is not to everyone's taste but by choosing the most well known Blue Note tunes Anita Wardell has produced a set of songs that should be accessible to everyone.
Highlights of the record, the setting of Lee Morgan's solo from 'Moanin', note perfect and superbly pitched. 'Autumn Leaves' - the great Cannonball Adderley solo from 'Something Else'. again beatifully piched and gives an indication of what a great ballad singer Anita is. As does 'Lonely Women' one of two Horace Silver tunes, the other being 'Doodlin'. Her lyric's to the latter as good as the great Mark Murphy's recording on 'Rah'.
The band includes the great Steve Brown on drums, Jeremy Brown (bass). Robin Aspland (piano) and Alex Garnett (saxes), who provide sensitive support to the vocal pyrotechnics and some great solos.
Anita has just won the 'Best of Jazz' award at the BBC Jazz awards 2006 and this album gives ample evidence of how deserved that award was, it is also one of my favourite records of the year.
This is the real thing. Forget the much-vaunted interpreters of ballads - Anita can do what they do (and far better), and she can do much more.
Difficult to pick just a few tracks when they are all outstanding, but my favourites are "Lonely Woman" - a track of Horace Silver's that I have loved for years, "The Sidewinder", which showcases Anita's fluent and impressive scat singing, and "Wonderful, Wonderful", on which she sings so joyfully, it lifts my heart.
Anita has been going from strength to strength and I reckon this is her best yet.