Trudy Kerr

Day Dream

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AllMusic Review by

Always in possession of impressive technique and a powerful voice, U.K. singer Trudy Kerr brings to her third album greater assurance, more sophisticated phrasing, and interpretative qualities gained through experience. She has also backed away from her Chaka Kahn influence, which sometimes got in the way on earlier CDs. Despite her strong voice, she nevertheless controls it adroitly, using it for contrast and running from up-tempo enthusiasm to husky torch singing. Listen to "That Old Black Magic"; the song starts just above a whisper but the dynamics shift constantly, from soft to medium loud as Kerr makes her points. The same is also true for "I Get Along Without You Very Well" as she works with the drummer, who uses cymbals and rolls to underscore the musical message the singer is making with the lyrics. This technique requires the listener to stay tuned in. Miss a measure or two and you'll miss an inflection, a slight change of tempo, an unusual accent. Kerr relies principally on delivering the lyrics to make her point with relatively little scatting. Her wordless vocalizing technique comes to the fore on "Polkadots and Moonbeams." But on those tunes when it seems she is about to launch into a scat, she teases and then backs away. The album also features unique arrangements for these tunes; unfortunately, no credit for that good work is given. Nevertheless, since the play list leans heavily on standards, it is important that the arrangements avoid already well-traveled paths. This is accomplished here through the interplay of Kerr with the musicians -- for instance between her and Geoff Gascoyne's bass and Sebastian de Krom's drums on "I've Got the World on a String." Kerr also engages in some clever vocal noodling to end the tune. "Mad About the Boy," with the exchange between the singer and de Krom's assertive drums, comes across like some of the challenging work Abbey Lincoln did with Max Roach. Guy Barker's vamping trumpet is heard on just one cut, almost as an afterthought. But the presence of one of the top jazz pianists on today's scene, Mulgrew Miller, is the icing that makes this CD especially appetizing. His dedication to the music and to Kerr's vocal phrasing is critical to the success of this album. This is a vocal set of constantly changing moods, expressions of fresh ideas, and solid musicianship. Recommended.

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