In an album of 12 songs, three are originals. She has a good representation of the standards such as Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s This Times the Dream’s on Me and Out of This World. The album was originally to be called Bittersweet as the theme of the album is to chronicle the life of a love affair. The theme remains, even with the change of album title. Even while the song list does not follow the affair chronologically, the pieces can be put together…much like the broken heart after a break-up.
If You Never Fall in Love with Me opens the album. Originally titled Del Sasser and written by Sam Jones and Donald Wolf, the song is given a Latin treatment by the band. It is a great hook for the remainder of the album. Vicki’s vocals are captivating and Sam Bevan gives a cool duet with his bass and Vicki’s understated scat.
Bernice Petkere’s Close Your Eyes follows with awarm delivery from Vicki and cool trumpet from Josh Deutsch. This was a great tune.
Billy Strayhorn is represented twice with Lotus Blossom Days and Bittersweet, both with lyrics from Carol Sloane, and Roger Shore, respectively. Art Hirahara is fantastic in his accompaniment with Vicki on these (and all of the songs of the album) and they become the core of the album. Wonderful.
Lee Morgan’s tune The Sidewinder is given lyrics by Mary Ellen Donald (Vicki’s student, no less!) and renamed Watch Out. You Don’t Have to Believe is a wonderful Flamenco-inspired tune written by Tessa Souter. Hirahara and the horns are brilliant.
Vicki composed two songs for the album, Love Spell and Siren Song. Both are aptly named as Vicki can cast a love spell just by listening to her song and she is, after all, quite the siren herself. Siren Song, of course, was first recorded on her first album but is appropriately reimagined here.
Two songs that grabbed me the most were two other reimaginings of classic Jazz tunes. John Coltrane’s Equinox is given lyrics from Chris Caswell and retitled A Long Way to Go. Thelonious Monk’s Well You Needn’t was given lyrics by Mike Ferro and called It’s Over Now. Both of these contain the wondrous original melodies with brilliant vocals by Vicki.
Here’s the thing about Vicki Burns, she has an amazing range and she knows how to intone in just the right way to get the emotion across to the listener. You can hear the joy, the melancholy, the rapture, the devastation and all are equally convincing. Perhaps that is the final word on such a great talent as Vicki Burns, she is convincing.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl