No one will accuse Marty Elkins of being a belter or trying to dazzle listeners with pyrotechnics; throughout Fuse Blues, the New York-based jazz vocalist favors a relaxed, subtle, uncomplicated approach that recalls such Cool School goddesses as June Christy, Chris Connor, and Julie London. This isn't to say that she is in a class with any of those greats, Elkins doesn't have the chops of either Christy or Connor. But then, a jazz singer doesn't need to have mind-blowing chops to be expressive. On this 1999 session, Elkins is noteworthy because of the sensitivity, vulnerability, and feeling she brings to dusky, smoky interpretations of well-known standards like "When Your Lover Has Gone," "Stars Fell on Alabama," and Mel Torme's "Born to Be Blue." Unfortunately, Elkins has the same problem that so many other jazz artists have: she inundates listeners with warhorses that have been done to death over the years. No one is saying that Elkins (who is joined by trumpeter Herb Pomeroy and tenor titan Houston Person, among others) has to avoid well known standards altogether, but she would do well to be more adventurous in her choice of material and unearth more gems that jazz enthusiasts haven't heard time and time again. Nonetheless, this very accessible CD has more strengths than weaknesses. Fuse Blues isn't remarkable, but it's definitely likable and pleasing.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson