Sandy Dennison

Jazzed!

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The sophomore release from Portland-based songstress Sandy Dennison provides a bit of nostalgia mixed with what almost seems like a retro-modern jazz club sound. Dennison lists influences from Carmen McRae to Ella Fitzgerald, and her phrasing follows them to a fair degree. At the same time, however, her vocal range seems limited, with strain coming out at the lower registers that she tends to stay in. The forced nature of the sound is really the aspect that makes the sound seem engineered for nostalgia, perhaps even performed for the purpose of mimicry. This likely isn't the case, but the mood is nonetheless a little off throughout the album. The standards chosen show an excellent ear for the classics, avoiding some of the most obvious pieces (the Rodgers & Hart, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Gershwin crowds), but still touching on some of the important songbook composers (there's still a Van Heusen number, an Irving Berlin number, and an excellent Billy Strayhorn piece). Dennison provides a fair outing, but doesn't quite break any expectations.

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