An exquisite vocal interpreter in addition to being an acclaimed singer/songwriter, Jeanie Brandes makes a long-awaited venture into jazz standards after three very unique releases that featured a mix of covers and originals: Love in the World I Remember (2000); Soul Serenity (2002), which featured originals penned by her longtime pianist Shelly Markham and "Sweet Celebration" by Brandes and Markham; and a sweet children's album, When I Look in Your Eyes (2006). The best standards singers have always found a way to get inside lyrics penned by others and find their emotional core so that it seems like they have truly lived them. This honesty comes across throughout Kisses You Awake, with Brandes injecting her own soul, style, smiles, and tears into songs that as a whole convey a remarkable journey (that professionally began at 22 when she performed with a 30-piece orchestra and included shows with Henry Mancini). She picks beautifully from the greats: Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, Luiz Bonfá, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Dori Caymmi and Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Haven Gillespie and Fred Coots' "You Go to My Head," Mancini and Johnny Mercer (the always infallible "Moon River"), and a clever medley of "The Party's Over"/"One for My Baby." In many ways she's looking back on an extraordinary life, but when she sings the Bergmans' lyrics to "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" she's no doubt also contemplating making this a new direction in her career. Her years working in the jazz world have taught her the fine art of collaboration, and the key to making Kisses You Awake a potential independent classic is making her team of jazz vets -- Markham, bass great Brian Bromberg, pianist Corey Allen, saxophonist/flutist Doug Webb, and drummer Dave Tull -- equal cohorts who challenge her artistry rather than just incidental sidemen. A beautiful recording to wake up to and enjoy all "Night and Day."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran