Various Artists

Quintessential

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This album from the Flying Weasel label celebrates the talents of five singers from the San Francisco Bay area. They offer a varied agenda of standards and originals, with the former in the majority. While all the tracks are well done and each is endowed with qualities unique to the performer, there are a few that are worth pinpointing. Shanna Carlson's interpretation of "You're My Thrill" gives this tune the same sensitive and knowledgeable reading in a style reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney. Kenny Stahl's flute backing and solo is just one example of the skill of the accompanists who appear on this CD. Jennifer Lee's haunting delivery of "Don't Blame Me" has her singing a bit behind the beat set by John Shifflett's bass. Cathi Walkup, with her deep, resonant, world-weary vibrato, is simply sensational on Django Reinhardt's "Nuages," with Dmitri Matheny's fluegelhorn noodling underneath. In contrast, there's the light, feathery vocal offering of Jenna Mammina on "I'm Old Fashioned" and her anything but sweet and proper approach to Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar." There is good original material as well on the agenda. A sense of wistfulness surrounds Shanna Carlson's "Funhouse Mirrors," which is bolstered by Hugo Wainzinger's guitar accompaniment. Sharman Duran, the daughter of eminent jazz guitarist Eddie Duran, does a somber, sad vocal recitation of her own on "Lagrimas." Offering both a variety and a high standard of artistry, this album is recommended.

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