The cover of this titillating project by one of our best loved singers is a bit understated. "The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band" assumes that we know Clooney's legendary performances over the years, and that we're eager to hear her with another great band, doing clever twists on songs both very familiar ("That Old Black Magic" and the title track) and less known (Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair," "The Singer"). And if we're fans, then we definitely are, because every performance by the original girl singer on the road is certainly gold. This project grew out of her month-long residence at Feinstein's at New York's Regency Hotel, where she was accompanied by Matt Catingub's band with the funny, sassy Latin name. Catingub's been a busy musician in Hawaii for years, and his 12-piece outfit is a perfect fit for Clooney's crisp, deliberate style. He's in good company considering that she's shared stages with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Woody Herman. The centerpiece is the title track, which longtime pianist/arranger John Oddo created to maximize intimacy, punctuated by big brassy exclamation points between verses. Clooney is happy to let the band take dazzling solo passages between her own, and several exciting jazz discoveries can be found in trumpeter Dave Scott (featured on the peppy "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm") and saxman Matt Cowan. Catingub's soft-spoken piano work blends beautifully behind Clooney's soothing vocal on "You Go to My Head," and then takes command on an elegant solo. Clooney thanks him on the packaging for making her feel 25 again, but who needs to go there? She should have called it "Swingin' Over 70" -- but of course age is just a number, right?
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran