Mary Foster Conklin

You'd Be Paradise

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With this album, Mary Foster Conklin continues her shift from cabaret to jazz singer without losing the better qualities of the former. She retains her excellent diction, showing proper respect for lyrics. But she also uses vocal maneuvers unique to jazz: clever phrasing, pausing for effect, and working to make her voice become one of the instruments. Conklin is also proficient at using a slight touch of vibrato at the end of a phrase, giving off an electrical jolt. The presence of top-flight jazz musicians Bill Mays, Frank Vignola, Jon Burr, and Joe Ascione provides a solid platform for Conklin's vocal adventures. The play list is a banquet of song with a potpourri of composing skills represented, from Cole Porter to Bob Dorough, who is represented by four of his songs. This melange allows Conklin to showcase her wide range of vocal skills. "Don't Get Scared" kicks off with a short scat on top of Mays' piano, segmenting into vocalese. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" brings out her delicious deviltry to make Cole Porter's warhorse sound new again. The interplay between Jon Burr's bass and Conklin during the last few measures of "Everything Happens to Me" will bring the listener back to this track often. The art of storytelling put to music that makes cabaret what it is comes to the fore on a gentle, poignant rendition of "Nirvana." Dorough's rarely recorded "Right on My Way Home" gets a wild ride by Conkin and Vignola. Among the many good instrumental moments is Mays' solo and his back and forth with Vignola on "Broken Bicycles." This session is a fortuitous coming together of the vocal art, outstanding instrumental playing, and a play list of notable songs to perform. Highly recommended.

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