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Album Review

Successful child prodigies have been a rare occurrence in the world of jazz, but saxophonist, vocalist and composer Grace Kelly seems destined to defy the odds. Her debut as a leader, recorded at the age of twelve for her family's Pazz label, is an impressive beginning, mostly emphasizing her singing but also displaying her surprising alto sax. How many music students of her age are confident enough to tackle singing Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right," Charlie Chaplin's tearjerker ballad "Smile," plus instrumentals like Hoagy Carmichael's timeless "Stardust" and Wayne Shorter's snappy hard bop vehicle "One by One" all on one CD? There are reservations, including the occasional overdubbed vocals, the lack of experience to believably interpret certain lyrics, and the pop orientation of some of her originals. But make no mistake, Grace Kelly is the real deal, as expressed on numerous occasions by supportive mentors like Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Jerry Bergonzi and other seasoned jazz veterans who can verify that she has both the burning desire and the ability to make it as a professional jazz artist.

Customer Reviews

No reason for hype

While I don't see the sense in lambasting Grace Kelly's music, I don't think it should be lauded either. It's obvious that she's extremely talented for her age, and probably will be worth hearing someday, but not now. The fact that she's thirteen should not elevate her status in listeners' ears or excuse the mediocrity of her playing, and right now her popularity seems to be relying on the gimmick of her age rather than the substance of her musiciality. If she played as well as Lee Konitz right now, there would be a reason to be impressed. But she doesn't - she plays almost as well as some of the best high school seniors, and I don't think it's worth paying money to see someone who has barely begun their musical journey and is nowhere near reaching the maturity that the best jazz artists demonstrate. On top of it all, she wouldn't be nearly as famous as she is right now if her well-off parents didn't utilize their many resources showing off their child to the world. Let her practice, let her become impressive, but until she's as good as Jaleel Shaw, Seamus Blake, or any other of the rising saxophonists who should be as famous as she is, there's no cause for fuss.

Liner Notes by Ann Hampton Callaway

When I met Grace Kelly after my show at The Regatta Bar two years ago, I had no idea that this ten year old girl would go on to record her first CD with world class musicians only two years later. At a time when music is almost evaporating from schools and where children are rarely exposed to our country's legacy of timeless jazz and standards, such a phenomenon as this singer-songwriter-saxophonist is indeed something to celebrate. Hearing the six standards and jazz pieces tastefully mixed with six of Grace's original songs, is to discover the boundless spirit and imagination of a natural artist. There is a compelling sense of ease and joy in her energy and this girl knows how to swing as evidenced by tunes such as Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right". Her voice is sweet and soulful, bridging the vocal traditions of jazz and pop music in an authentic, original way. Her sensitivity, control and focus as an alto saxophonist is impressive. When I played some songs of hers for the legendary drummer, Victor Lewis, he said "Wow, I love her sound." She has a warm, burnished tone that is equally pleasurable on lyrical songs like Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust" and the urbane bop tune "One By One by Wayne Shorter. What knocked me out in particular is her songwriting. The 5/4 piece "G-Bop" sounds like a jazz classic. The instrumental "Tinkerbell" is a velvety smooth jazz song that sets an appealing, dusky mood. The title song "Dreaming" as well as "Baby, Baby" (introduced as an instrumental and reprised as a vocal) has smooth jazz overtones as well, which swoon into pop realms and evoke Grace's burgeoning romantic yearnings. Her song "On My Way Home", with lyrics written with her father Robert, is folk/pop story song hauntingly arranged with David Eure's poignant violin and Grace's pure voice echoing the images. Backed by her mentor Ken Berman splitting tracks on piano with Doug Johnson, John Lockwood on bass, and Guy Goodwin and Jordan Perlson splitting tracks on drums, Grace is beautifully supported throughout the entire CD. She plays and sings with assurance, connecting to all the delicious music of her fellow artists. There is no telling how far this child prodigy will go with the limitless possibilities of her voluminous talents. Grace is following her heart and that path is sure to lead her on a great adventure that all listeners, lucky enough to discover her, will relish. Ann Hampton Callaway, New York City February 4, 2005

Definitely 5 stars

OMG Grace Kelly is so talented. She is the best sax player i've heard in a while. She should totally go put her new album on ITUnes!! She put so much work into these songs she deserves 5 stars. I LOve Grace Kelly xoxoxoxoooox!


Genre: Jazz

Not to be confused with the famous Philadelphia-born actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco and died in 1982, the Grace Kelly profiled in this bio is a straight-ahead jazz saxophonist/singer who had several albums in her catalog before she was 17. The precocious New England native has made the alto sax her primarily instrument, but she also plays the tenor and soprano saxes -- and Kelly can play clarinet, flute, acoustic piano, and drums, as well. At times, Kelly will put down her saxophone...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Grace Kelly

Dreaming, Grace Kelly
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Pop
  • Released: Mar 22, 2005

Customer Ratings