Jane Blackstone

Natural Habit NYC

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Jane Blackstone's maiden album has a delectable assortment of jazz goodies. First there is the play list which is peppered with originals and standards. Second, there are the fine New York players she has brought into the studio with her. Third, they play a variety of instruments, including tuba and accordion. And, finally, there are the arrangements which allow the singer to display the full panoply of her singing skills. "We Kiss in a Shadow" sets off the singer's ballad style, revealing an uncommon sensitivity to the lyrics. Significant contributions to the track come from the inestimable Sir Roland Hanna's piano. Regrettably, Hanna is on only two tracks. The piano duties for the rest of the CD are shared by Tino Derado and Bob Albanese, both competitive in their own ways. But they lack that eloquent subtlety Hanna has developed over his 50-year career. On the fast material, Blackstone travels down a hectic path filled with risky rhythms, giving a song a kind of off-center feel as on "Where You At?" One sees the classic operetta tune, "Without a Song," on the play list and wonders how this singer will deal with it. With Hanna leading the way on piano, she gives this old warhorse a sweeping, genuine rendition, interspersed with some on-the-mark scat. One of the more ear-catching arrangements comes on "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," where the singer gets a bit sultry riding over a lightly Latin beat by Steve Johns. The track is notable for some seamless bass by Ratzo Harris. Moving to another mode, the music turns exotic on "The Rainbow I See in Your Eyes" with crashing cymbals and the soulful soprano sax of Bob Mover. Natural Habitat/NYC is a fine debut.

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