When Sandra Booker first hit the Los Angeles jazz scene, the young vocalist was often criticized for sounding too much like Sarah Vaughan. A lot of critics argued that instead of emulating Vaughan, she needed to develop a sound of her own. But by the time Booker recorded her debut album, Very Early, for the small Jersey Boy label in 1994, she wasn't sounding like a clone of Vaughn or anyone else. Sassy's influence hadn't gone away altogether, but the Booker one hears on passionate versions of "Indian Summer," "My Favorite Things," "How High the Moon" and "A Night in Tunisia" is someone who was striving for originality. Booker showed a lot of promise on this hard bop/post-bop CD, which showed that she had developed into a sensitive interpreter of lyrics as well as an exuberant scat singer. When the big-voiced Booker scats her way through a wordless take on Gigi Gryce's "Minority," the results are invigorating. Very Early indicated that she was someone to keep an eye on.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson