Donna Byrne

Let's Face the Music and Dance

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Donna Byrne's second album as a soloist further establishes her as one of today's more accomplished (if underrecognized) jazz singers. Joined by a congregation of all-star musicians, Byrne runs through 13 standards, adding to each her unique musical imprimatur. The album's kick-off tune, the mile-a-minute "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," features guitarist Gray Sargent, who is also prominent on "Dream Dancing." One of the session's highlights is the "Time" medley ("I Didn't Know What Times It Was" and "Too Late Now"). Byrne likes to start off a song with an unhurried a cappella rendition of the verse, segueing into a medium-paced tempo, as on "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," which features excellent support from master pianist Dave McKenna. A contrast to this medley is a plaintive, sad "Too Late Now," with Sargent's contemplative guitar ruminating behind Byrne. "Blame It on My Youth" reveals the influence of Mabel Mercer on Byrne's style. A phenomenal arrangement of "Limehouse Blues" is a highlight of the album. It starts off with Marshall Wood's bass providing just the right sensuous background for Byrne's slow, slinky first chorus. McKenna and Sargent come in to pick up the pace; the alto sax of Dick Johnson takes over with Byrne; finally, Johnson solos and then supports another patented Byrne solo for a rousing six-minute conclusion to this exciting and entertaining arrangement of the 1924 warhorse. Herb Pomeroy is heard on just a few cuts, but his fl├╝gelhorn comes to the fore on "I Remember You," sharing the solo spotlight with Johnson. Byrne and McKenna duet on "Something to Remember You By," avoiding the saccharine interpretation usually given this 1930 hit. The title tune once again hooks up Byrne and Wood's bass, with Jim Gwin's drums keeping time without being intrusive; Pomeroy and Sargent get plenty of solo space here. It's quite evident by the enthusiasm shown by each musician that all are having a very good time. Graced with excellent diction, a unique and very entertaining approach to lyrics, and a clear, crystalline, jazzy voice, Donna Byrne is a talented singer, and should be far better known than she is.

blue highlight denotes track pick