Detroiter Barbara Ware is an exceptional jazz singer, firmly grounded in the tradition, and employs a program of 16 well known jazz, American pop, and Brazilian standards. She has a sweet voice -- deep, rich, and resonant -- and a little Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, or Chris Connor influence might be detected. She doesn't scat or take too many chances and uses fairly stock arrangements, but has a penchant for occasional off-minor phrasings. Ware swings without a drummer on this set, using only guitarist Rodney Rich and bassist Dan Pliskow, both empathetic and interesting players. During this showcase of her fine voice, you can readily predict what will happen next, though she mixes pacing and styles with grace and aplomb. Of course, she renders blues drenched ballads as if she's lived 'em a la "When Sunny Gets Blue," the slower, flattened "Cry Me a River," voice/guitar duet love song "Lazy Afternoon," "This Is Always," and the kitchier "I Had the Craziest Dream." She takes it easy during the swing of "Like Someone in Love" and the bass/vocal duos on "In a Mellow Tone" and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"; Rich only in on the bridge for the latter tune. But Ware is more comfortable turning it up a notch on the more energetic "Just Squeeze Me," "I'm Confessin' I Love You," the lower timbered "They Say That Falling in Love Is Wonderful," and the apropos closer "I Remember You." There's also the light samba version of "How Deep Is the Ocean," a similar take of "Speak Low," and the classic bossa "Quiet Nights/Corcovado." Barbara Ware is a memorable singer. With many years of experience already behind her, this amazingly is her debut recording. The next one will certainly be even better, with greater variety, and the jazz world should look forward to that event.
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