Chris McNulty

I Remember You

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In the 21st century, there are all kinds of jazz singers to choose from. Some are totally conventional (Diana Krall, Jane Monheit), some are adventurous (Kitty Margolis, Claire Martin, Karrin Allyson), and some are downright radical (Ann Dyer). Chris McNulty isn't among the more challenging or left-of-center vocalists in the jazz world; no one will accuse I Remember You of trying to reinvent the jazz wheel. But in terms of warmth, charm, and charisma, the Australian singer (who left the land of AC/DC, the Divinyls, and Men at Work for New York City back in 1988) has a lot going for her. McNulty's very accessible approach is best described as Sarah Vaughan meets Ella Fitzgerald (that is, Fitzgerald's softer side) with slight traces of the cool school (as in June Christy and Chris Connor) and a dash of Jo Stafford. In contrast to Stafford -- who was a pop singer with jazz influences -- McNulty is essentially a jazz singer with some pop influences. In fact, McNulty was into rock and R&B before she discovered jazz back in the '70s, and that's a good thing because she isn't the sort of vocalist who is hostile to anything that was written after the '50s. McNulty brings her smooth, gently swinging outlook to some Tin Pan Alley warhorses -- including Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You" and Cole Porter's "Easy to Love" -- but she also interprets the Spiral Staircase's 1969 hit "More Today Than Yesterday" (which soul-jazz enthusiasts will always associate with organist Charles Earland) and Burt Bacharach's "This Girl's in Love." And the fact that McNulty is willing to look to different areas of the pop spectrum for material speaks well of the Aussie, whose I Remember You won't go down in history as groundbreaking, but is definitely likable and noteworthy.

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