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Sweet and Saxy

Pamela Luss

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Album Review

Through three fine recordings, jazz vocalist Pamela Luss has stayed the course singing standards in her own inimitable, alluring fashion. Blessed with a solid vocal instrument that at-times wavers with a girlish fascination for pure or unrequited love, Luss gives it another go on this, her fourth album, backed up by Houston Person's working band featuring the excellent pianist John DiMartino, and at times guitarist James Chirillo. The lust Luss is able to conjure is hard to resist, as she stands tall and lean among these well-known songs, interpreted with just a dash of sass, a large portion of confidence, a slight vibrato, and an at-times lissome eye toward a hopeful future. Person works well with most singers (i.e. Etta Jones) but here he seems to feed off of the vocal lines Luss dishes out. They're clearly having fun trading phrases on occasion, or in retort when the vocalist makes statements like the come-and-run-away ballad "You Better Go Now," the light bossa nova take of "Can't Get Out Of This Mood," or the sensual, samba-tinged "You Belong to Me." Chirillo is particularly tasteful on the five numbers where he's added on, strumming like the seasoned Freddie Greene during "Nice & Easy," and diving into the shuffle "Teardrops from My Eyes" - more of this one please Ms. Luss! DiMartino is also the arranger of these selections, increasing the sophistication of tracks like the temptation calypso "Canadian Sunset," controlling the swing factor of "Star Eyes," or enhancing a bluesy feeling to "Why Was I Born?". Perhaps the single track where Luss comes a bit out of her comfort zone is the playful "Don'tcha Go Away Mad," always a tongue-in-cheek favorite, as those asking for forgiveness while looking for an amicable exit from confrontation can relate to. This is a good combination of vocalist and backup band, one that could, at some point in time, explore a more down-home blues approach. While hers is a voice that does take some getting used to, she's refining her method with each recording, becoming a true professional interpreter of the tried-and-true American popular songbook., Rovi

Sweet and Saxy, Pamela Luss
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