The songs of Steve Allen comprise a deep vein of golden ore waiting to be mined. Vitro touches on 12 of them here, many with string synthesizer accoutrements and acoustic piano from either Kenny Werner or Fred Hersch. Bassists Marc Johnson or Scott Lee, and drummers Joey Baron or Jeff Papez jump into the fray. Vitro's voice has never sounded better; her large emotional range, bravado, and perfectly tuned and articulated phrases are intact and served up hot and well recorded. The music itself ranges from straight jazz to pop kitsch, broken-hearted ballads and a Brazilian incursion here and there. What is most important here is that Allen's lyrics are precious, and Vitro does them proud. "Convince Me" is an easy swinger perfectly suited for her voice and inquisitive attitude, replete with "Embraceable You" similarities. A hip waltz, "Keep Cool," shows Vitro's soulful, recessed low tones on a great lyric that was written in a musical for a ten-piece ghetto-based boys choir, ultimately coming across as sincere. The breezy tale of "Life" hits on many angles and cylinders, yet another classic lyric sung faithfully. In a bluesy vein for the fun shuffle "Cool Yule" with overdubbed doo wop refrains, or on the lowdown, slinky "I Never Had the Blues," Vitro's "wild one" personality comes to a gutbucket head. "That-A Girl" is a cute, small samba, whereas "I Like to Dance" (with Allen's lyrics on Paul Smith's music) is a bigger samba with Billy Drews' soprano sax and a virulent percussion workout from Baron and Cyro Baptista, Vitro scatting up a storm as only she can. The best ballad is "There's No Way Home," written for Alice In Wonderland. It's a lost and lonely, mystery-laden waltz for the little girl in the story as told by an observant Vitro. The zinger is Allen's line written for the Miles Davis funk "You & I" as if Vitro were a voodoo child reincarnate, an intriguing aside. Enclosed in this delightful CD are many moments of brilliance in jazz and pop-oriented veins, not standard nomenclature, but modernized extensions of those traditions,sung by a vocalist who knows exactly what to do in belting them out, or taking a romantic stand. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos