Klea Blackhurst

Autumn in New York: Vernon Duke's Broadway

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Broadway always seems to be a good place to turn for a mother lode of classic American songs. On Autumn in New York, singer Klea Blackhurst does just that, turning to composer Vernon Duke's rich body of work. The list of lyricists Duke worked with is impressive and includes Ira Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg, and Howard Dietz. Blackhurst is a lively vocalist and brings a carefree air to fun songs like "Taking a Chance on Love" and "I Can't Get Started." It doesn't hurt that she's joined by a talented ensemble that includes pianist Michael Rice, guitarist Greg Skaff, and Dan Willis on flute, soprano, and oboe. The group is filled out with a small string section from time to time, but the arrangements are never busy. Basically, they provide an attractive underpinning for Blackhurst's vocals, playing it nice and easy on ballads like "Sailing at Midnight" and adding a bit of pizzazz on upbeat numbers like "Dancing in the Streets." The centerpiece, of course, is "Autumn in New York," a song that Duke also wrote the lyrics to. Blackhurst keeps the song intact by including the opening verse, and the string section does a fine job capturing the melancholy mood that the song evokes. For those who appreciate the Great American Songbook, Duke's work, or lively jazz vocals, Autumn in New York is a solid recording.

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