So Many Stars

Janis Mann

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So Many Stars Review

by Dave Nathan

Not only is she undaunted by taking on the challenge of an album of songs associated with one of the great jazz divas, Sarah Vaughan, but Janis Mann is so confident in her artistry that she takes on this task performing before a live audience. Under these circumstances, she has to get it right the first time if she is going to get it right at all. There's no "let's try that one again." But this Seattle-based singer demonstrates she is up to that task...and more. There are the swoops, the loops, the telling use of the vibrato, the quick moves up and down the scale, the broad vowels, all the familiar mannerisms that were Vaughan's, put on display by Mann without discarding her own special stylistic qualities that were showcased in her two albums previous to this one. Working with just a rhythm trio, Mann has selected 12 songs that were part and parcel of Vaughan's repertoire. On "It Never Entered My Mind," which Vaughan recorded in 1956, Mann shows her extraordinary range, as well as an ability to handle the very low notes with ease. "Sometimes I'm Happy," a sassy favorite, shows off the bop phrasing and scatting Vaughan practically invented. It's also a vehicle for an extended solo by the trio, featuring Mann's regular pianist, Randy Halberstadt. Another enduring Vaughan vehicle, "The Sweetest Sounds," is done with the backing of Clipper Anderson's arco bass, making it one of the haunting tracks on the label. Mann favors the jazz-oriented material Vaughan recorded for Mercury and Musicraft. The result is a CD of gems associated with an outstanding jazz singer as faithfully interpreted by another fine vocalist. Recommended.

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