Susie Meissner

I'll Remember April

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

Susie Meissner is one of those no-frills jazz singers who dot the American landscape. Her voice is pleasant enough; she sings only the best-known or well-worn standards with some Brazilian tunes; and she sticks by the book in terms of arrangements, the author of those charts not being credited. A slight vibrato shades her thin, plain-Jane, girl-next-door sweetheart of a voice, but she takes virtually no risks nor accepts any challenges in making these songs more than they are, or could be. It is good to hear the addition of stellar sidemen like the acclaimed trumpeter Brian Lynch, who always enlivens a session when he's not playing his personal brand of hard to post-bop, or sizzling Afro-Caribbean jazz with Eddie Palmieri. Alto saxophonist David Mann also appears in a refreshing move toward the mainstream and away from his contemporary commercialized comfort zone. Tenor saxophonist Greg Riley rounds out a fine front line that should do an album on its own. At her most convincing, Meissner sings "I'm Old Fashioned" simply, while "Never Let Me Go" is the softest of ballads and "How Deep Is the Ocean?" is an easy swinging traipse, including a good exchange with Riley. She's most effective on the light samba version of "Dreamer" with the horns cavorting about her, while the very slow take of "Meditation" allows Lynch to unfold his prettily wrapped gifts of melody. "My Foolish Heart" is a livelier bossa with a better concept in adapting this standard to a different arena. The remainder of the material ranges from maudlin to cutesy to lightweight with little distinction. At times Meissner's voice is flat and strained, the song is not suited for her key, or she sounds uninspired and the instrumentalists have to pick up the load. Pianist John Shaddy is a fine addition to the band, but lacks the firepower of the horns. If this is a starting point for Meissner, it's a decent one, although the instrumentalists lift the cachet of this music measurably. She's clearly competent and on the road to being a successful jazz singer.

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