LaVerne Butler

Love Lost and Found Again

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    8
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LaVerne Butler has recorded only sporadically since her 1992 debut, but it isn't due to a lack of talent. Steeped in jazz with an appreciation for R&B, she tackles a mix of Broadway tunes and pop, backed by her frequent collaborator, the gifted pianist Bruce Barth, who also penned the arrangements, along with bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Rudy Royston, with tenor saxophonist Houston Person added on seven tracks. Butler makes it all sound effortless with her expressive alto, gliding through the arrangements as if they've long been part of her repertoire instead of being created just before the sessions. She makes the most of the variety of music, excelling in standards like "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star" and a forgotten gem like Rodgers & Hammerstein's "In My Own Little Corner," but really delivers with a memorable rendition of Charlie Chaplin's decades-old tearful ballad "Smile." Person's presence is welcome, reminiscent of his many appearances in support of the late singer Etta Jones, adding a soulful touch that complements Butler on "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home," "Travelin' Light," and "Be Anything (But Be Mine)."

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