Boston resident Melissa Kassel is a challenging, risk-taking jazz vocalist whose interpretations of standards have inspired comparisons to Betty Carter and Sheila Jordan; at times, she also brings to mind the underrated Jeanne Lee. Kassel, however, never sounds like she is emulating any of her influences; the singer is fairly original and has a recognizable style of post-bop. While Kassel brings sensitivity and vulnerability to her performances, she isn't the sort of singer who is willing to do anything-and-everything to be accessible. Kassel can be abstract and cerebral, and like Carter, Jordan, and Lee, she is someone who needs to be accepted on her own terms. Kassel's first album came out in 2000, when the standards-oriented Live at the Acton Jazz Café was released on the small, New York-based Muse Eek label.
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