A product of the San Francisco Bay Area jazz scene, Mary Stallings recorded in New York for the first time when she entered a Manhattan studio for her third Concord release, Manhattan Moods. Contrary to what some provincial, myopic jazz critics implied, Stallings didn't have to record in the Big Apple to prove her legitimacy -- she would have been a great singer even if she'd never set foot outside of northern California. But Stallings' visit to New York was a good thing, for her talented East Coast support includes pianist Monty Alexander and producer Allen Farnham (who is a fine pianist himself, though he doesn't play on this CD). Farnham was known for his work with Mel Tormé and Susannah McCorkle, and when it came to working with singers in the 1990s, you couldn't ask for a more insightful producer. Farnham's input was obviously a major asset for Stallings, who really pours her heart into such chestnuts as "You Go to My Head," "I Wish I Knew," and "Lullaby of the Leaves." Perhaps the album's most surprising track is "How High the Moon," which was done at maximum speed by countless beboppers, but becomes a haunting ballad in Stallings' hands. With Stallings having put her singing career on the back burner for so many years, it was great to see her building an impressive catalog at Concord.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson