If You Never Come to Me

Monica Hatch

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If You Never Come to Me Review

by Dave Nathan

Monica Hatch, who studied with soprano Eleanor Steber, is an exception to the generally held supposition that classically trained singers can't be successful jazz singers because the basic premise of each is different (i.e., the classical genre allows no room for improvisation). Yet both musical classes allow for interpretative expression and the release of personal emotions. It just takes hard work to cross over between the two genres and remain credible in each. Hatch goes a long way on her debut album to earn her spurs as a singer of songs associated with jazz. While there's some up-tempo material, Hatch pretty much stays with slower and medium-paced arrangements. One result is that the purity of her voice and smart use of phrasing are highlighted. She squeezes out the maximum feeling each tune has to offer, such as the indolent mood of "The Gentle Rain," a mood John Lockwood's arco bass helps establish, to a sense of anticipation on " A Time for Love" with a backdrop by Steve Cancelli's guitar and Mike Turk's harmonica. Hatch chooses the Annie Ross favorite "Farmer's Market" to do vocalese. Although passable, Hatch is not yet completely at ease with this branch of jazz singing. Her scatting skills are better displayed on a rarely heard Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart "Do It the Hard Way." Paul Broadnax is not only on piano and contributing several of the arrangements, but also joins Hatch to take bop standard "Anthropology" on a happy four-minute excursion into the land of wordless vocalizing. While Hatch is the main attraction, the sidemen get plenty of space to play as a group, as on "Dancing on the Ceiling" or as soloists on virtually every track. This inaugural effort is a winner and portends well for this New England performer.

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