Erienne Romaine

The Scenic Route

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Erienne Romaine is an accomplished jazz singer for someone of her extreme youth: the Colorado-based singer was 14 when The Scenic Route was recorded. Unfortunately, the album has a sad and slightly exploitative back story that keeps it from being entirely enjoyed on its own merits: Romaine, the daughter of jazz drummer Paul Romaine, has undergone repeated surgeries for a rare and potentially fatal blockage of veins in her brain, and with the help of her father and several other local jazz musicians, she recorded this set of standards and originals, which was released in part to help defray her medical costs. It's a shame that the promotion for The Scenic Route has to focus so much on Romaine's tender years and frightening medical woes, because on its own merits, it's really a very good slice of small-combo vocal jazz. Romaine, whose rich voice is that of a woman at least twice her age, has a knack for subtle phrasing that she puts to particularly good use on standards like "Lush Life" and the Antonio Carlos Jobim chestnut "Agua de Beber," the familiar scat refrain of which she tackles with brassy verve far removed from Astrud Gilberto's more reserved rendition. The Scenic Route is a low-key effort that won't set the jazz world on its ear, but Erienne Romaine deserves to be more than an object of pity.

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