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be Kool Be Kind

Carla Helmbrecht

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Album Review

Carla Helmbrecht graduated summa cum laude from that school of vocalists who believe that in order to be effective, they don't have to indulge in vocal tricks, become overemotional, or even overdo dynamics by singing loud and then even louder. Rather, her approach is cool, languid, laid-back (as distinguished from laid out), and gently fervent. On her second release for Heart Music, Be Cool Be Kind has a program that allows Helmbrecht to forego up-tempo rhythms, living comfortably with the slow and medium pace. The most excitable she gets is on "Easy Love," which she wrote with her piano player, Peter Horvath. This track also reveals that she has a cute ingenue side about her. Helmbrecht's style results in pleasant but credible off-the-beaten-track interpretations. "The Party's Over," normally done with much emoting, comes off matter of fact here, as in "It's over and done with so get used to it." (Contrast this with the version by Anita O'Day.) The San Francisco-based singer has convinced outstanding jazz musicians to join her for this session. In addition to the basic trio headed by Horvath's piano, invited guests make important contributions. On "Even Still," Ernie Watts' spacious sax offers worthy counterpoint to Helmbrecht's relaxed warbling. Larry Koonse's guitar and Clay Jenkins' muted and open trumpet are delectably conspicuous on "The Party's Over." Horvath's piano introduction is the picture frame for a lovely "The Touch of Your Lips," as Joe LaBarbera's swishing brushes provide a soft angel-hair-like rhythmic underpinning. This is an outstanding track among a very good set of tracks. The lyrics are in the liner notes. But some are printed in red on a gray background and are virtually impossible to read. This irritant aside, this album is recommended without reservation.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A talented jazz singer who reshapes standards in subtle ways, Carla Helmbrecht is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She remembers telling a friend when she was five that she was going to be a singer someday. Helmbrecht started playing piano when she was eight and was singing professionally at weddings by the time she was 12. She performed on oboe for six years in school concert bands, and became interested in jazz as a teenager. She made four privately recorded songs on 45s when she was 18. Helmbrecht...
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be Kool Be Kind, Carla Helmbrecht
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