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Live At Jazz Standard (with The George Mesterhazy Quartet)

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Album Review

Paula West is a West coast-based jazz vocalist who has only recorded sporadically under her own name, though the soulful alto deserves to be more widely known. Her live meeting with pianist George Mesterhazy's Quartet was recorded at New York City's Jazz Standard before an attentive audience, with the band including veteran guitarist Ed Cherry, bassist Barak Mori, and drummer Jerome Jennings. West isn't one to hog the spotlight, she gives the instrumentalists plenty of space to show off their chops, while they provide her perfect accompaniment. The singer's sassy take of "Baltimore Oriole" has the vigor of Carmen McRae, while Mesterhazy's lyrical setting of "Nature Boy" helps West take this oft-played chestnut down a different path, along with judicious use of reverb by the engineer to accent her vocal in spots. There are a few less commonly heard songs, including West's playful take of "Pocketful of Miracles" and Leonard Feather's obscure "Man Wanted," the latter in which she captures the essence of its whimsical nature. Mesterhazy doubles on organ for West's soulful take of "Romance in the Dark." The vocalist's inclusion of two Bob Dylan tunes ("Like a Rolling Stone" and "Don't Think Twice") adds some novelty, though her sincere rendition of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" (forever associated with country singer Glen Campbell's hit record) intersperses Mori's arco bass, Cherry's subtle guitar inflections, and Mesterhazy's understated piano. It's nice to hear a jazz singer like Paula West who is not only willing to explore new paths to familiar standards, but is willing to risk tackling vintage pop songs not usually played on jazz dates, and long overlooked works as well. Sadly, this CD may have been George Mesterhazy's swan song, as he died in the spring of 2012, around the time of this CD's release.


Born: San Diego, CA

Genre: Health & Fitness

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Many professional singers have some musical spark in their backgrounds that initially fired their interest in a career in the music business. Many started out in the church choir. Others worked in regional musical theater. But for jazz singer Paula West, there was nothing in her background to indicate early on that she would end up where she is today: making albums and performing live at such swanky venues as the Oak Room in New York's Algonquin Hotel and the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. A native...
Full bio
Live At Jazz Standard (with The George Mesterhazy Quartet), Paula West
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