Audrey Morris

Round About

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Round About is the fifth in Audrey Morris' series of releases since she returned to the recording studio and began performing at Chicago jazz venues after a long hiatus to raise a family. Always an intimate singer, she has become even more minimal in her delivery. Like Jeri Southern, she produces so much with so little apparent effort. The play list for this album is perfectly designed to draw attention to her special way with a song. There are some familiar classic standards that are very well done. But more interesting are the long-forgotten gems that Morris has revived and burnished. "I Can't Escape From You" was culled from the 1930s, having been recorded by Shep Fields of Rippling Rhythm Orchestra fame. Then there's "April Played the Fiddle," which Frank Sinatra popularized with Tommy Dorsey in 1940. Another lost song from the past, "Humpty-Dumpty Heart," is done with typical Morris poignancy and melancholy. And the list goes on. One song after another is turned into a special story aimed at each listener individually. For many of the tunes, Morris sings verses that act as introductions to the stories; more singers should follow this practice. Morris is comfortably supported by two old friends from Chicago. On previous albums, the singer generally accompanied herself on the piano. Here she limits her piano activity to one cut, "You're Not So Easy to Forget." For the rest of the time, the sensitive piano of Joe Vito is the exquisite wrapping on Morris' vocal presents. Outstanding jazz violinist John Frigo helps sustain the mood created by this session. He emerges from the background shadows for lovely solos on "Street of Dreams" and "Imagination." Audrey Morris successfully combines two seemingly irreconcilable emotions -- tranquility and passion -- for a charismatic and charming 50-plus minutes of highly individualized vocalizing. This album is very much recommended.

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