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Manhattan Moods

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Album Review

A product of the San Francisco Bay Area jazz scene, Mary Stallings recorded in New York for the first time when she entered a Manhattan studio for her third Concord release, Manhattan Moods. Contrary to what some provincial, myopic jazz critics implied, Stallings didn't have to record in the Big Apple to prove her legitimacy — she would have been a great singer even if she'd never set foot outside of northern California. But Stallings' visit to New York was a good thing, for her talented East Coast support includes pianist Monty Alexander and producer Allen Farnham (who is a fine pianist himself, though he doesn't play on this CD). Farnham was known for his work with Mel Tormé and Susannah McCorkle, and when it came to working with singers in the 1990s, you couldn't ask for a more insightful producer. Farnham's input was obviously a major asset for Stallings, who really pours her heart into such chestnuts as "You Go to My Head," "I Wish I Knew," and "Lullaby of the Leaves." Perhaps the album's most surprising track is "How High the Moon," which was done at maximum speed by countless beboppers, but becomes a haunting ballad in Stallings' hands. With Stallings having put her singing career on the back burner for so many years, it was great to see her building an impressive catalog at Concord.

Biography

Born: 16 August 1939 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Greatly influenced by Carmen McRae, San Francisco native Mary Stallings is a passionate, robust singer who isn't nearly as well known as she should be. The niece of saxman Orlando Stallings, she started singing as a child and sang jazz in Bay Area clubs during her teenage years, when she performed with Louis Jordan & His Tympani 5 and shared the stage with such greats as Wes Montgomery and Ben Webster. One of Stallings' admirers was vibist Cal Tjader, whom she teamed up with in 1961 for Cal Tjader...
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Manhattan Moods, Mary Stallings
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