Libby York

Sunday in New York

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Back in the '50s, most East Coast jazz critics didn't give the cool school nearly enough credit. They viewed hard bop as the "correct" way to approach post-swing jazz, but truth be told, hard bop wasn't about "correctness" -- it was an attractive option, but cool jazz wasn't any less desirable. Thankfully, time has been kinder to the cool school than those '50s critics, which is why the recordings of goddesses like June Christy, Anita O'Day, Julie London, Helen Merrill, and Chris Connor continue to be influential. Just ask Libby York, whose devotion to the cool school is evident throughout her second album, Sunday in New York. This CD was recorded in 2002 and 2003, but in terms of vocal influences (especially O'Day, Christy, and Connor), Sunday in New York is quite mindful of the '40s and '50s. And that outlook serves York well; she's far from the most groundbreaking singer in the world, but the Chicago resident is definitely soulful and expressive. Sunday in New York, which York co-produced with pianist Renee Rosnes, could have been more adventurous in its choice of material. York offers a few surprises (including interpretations of Michael Franks' "Down in Brazil" and Frank Loesser's "I Go for That"), but one wishes that she would offer more of them instead of embracing so many overdone standards that have been recorded countless times over the years. It wouldn't hurt York to take a hint from British singer Claire Martin, who shares many of her cool school influences but has found the jazz potential in everyone from Stevie Wonder to Laura Nyro to Thomas Dolby. Regardless, Sunday in New York has a lot going for it. York certainly isn't lacking when it comes to charisma, humanity, and warmth, all of which are in abundance on this solid and pleasing, if conservative, release.

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