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Mess Around

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Album Review

Robin McKelle's previous recordings featured a big band, with her vocal stylings leaning on the pop side of jazz. While effective to a degree, she sounds similar in this setting, where this band is stripped down, a small horn section remains and electric keyboards still give the music a retro feel. Her tune choices are all over the map, copping soul and pop tunes with a funky underpinning, rarely swinging although occasionally shuffling, and featuring McKelle's coarse, gritty, at times supple, sophisticated voice. Her accompanying musicians are cream-of-the-crop up-and-comers, including keyboardist Xavier Davis, bassist Tim Lefevbre, saxophonists Mark Gross and Alex Harding, as well as two appearances by veteran Houston Person. Inspired by Ray Charles, the title track takes on a boogaloo facade with Wurlitzer organ, but a similar beat is thrust into Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows." Better suited for ballads as "Cry Me a River," McKelle does have that blue-eyed soul thing going on, but it's the amalgam of the Beatles meeting James Brown through "The Girl from Ipanema" during her version of "Eleanor Rigby" that shows where McKelle is really coming from. A credible effort if not somewhat been there/done that by others, it's to Robin McKelle's plus side that she is seeking new vibes out of something created in her old soul. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1976 in Rochester, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Robin McKelle is a vocalist who has straddled the line between classic rhythm & blues and traditional pop music, but her love of swing and big-band jazz has been even more pronounced. A young Robin McElhatten grew up in Rochester, NY, the daughter of a liturgical vocalist. She took classical piano lessons and played French horn for ten years, and her early influences included Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, and Gladys Knight. By her late teens she was more intrigued by the content...
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Mess Around, Robin McKelle
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