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Album Review

In the '50s, many jazz critics didn't give the Cool School nearly enough credit. Their preference was hard bop, and they failed to acknowledge the richness of either cool jazz's instrumentalists (Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, among many others) or its singers (who included June Christy, Chris Connor, Helen Merrill, and Julie London). But history proved those critics wrong. Cool jazz has held up well over time, and in the '90s, the vocalists of the Cool School were influencing singers ranging from Claire Martin and Dominique Eade to Barbara Montgomery. Another singer who obviously recognizes the power of cool jazz is Jenny Evans, whose cool-toned vocals on 1996's Shiny Stockings underscore her appreciation of Christy and Connor as well as Anita O'Day and Jeri Southern. There aren't a lot of surprises on this likable, if conventional, release, and Evans makes the mistake of picking too many standards that have been done to death over the years (including "April in Paris," "You Go to My Head," and "Honeysuckle Rose"). This isn't to say that Evans has to be an innovator or that she should avoid well known standards altogether, but it would have been nice if she had offered more surprises instead of playing it so safe most of the time. For example, instead of offering yet another version of "In a Mellow Tone," how about unearthing some of Duke Ellington's lesser known gems? Nonetheless, one can tell that Evans has a lot of potential. Her voice is certainly appealing, and when she provides lyrics for three songs by trumpeter Dusko Goykovich ("The Song of Autumn," "That's What Zoot Said," and "Good Old Days"), it's clear that she is also a talented lyricist. Shiny Stockings indicated that if Evans could take more chances and be more adventurous in her choice of material, she had the potential to deliver a great album instead of one that is merely competent.

Shiny Stockings, David Gazarov
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