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New songs let Lundy stretch gorgeous voice

This Is Carmen Lundy
This Is Carmen Lundy
By Carmen Lundy

Justin Time Music: 2001

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This review first appeared in the November 25, 2001 edition of the American Reporter.

So just where are the new standards?

It seems a fair question – how many times and for how long can we demand covers of George Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter as a measuring stick of our greatest singers?

As many a cover of a Beatles hit has proven, the supposed rock revolution has produced little in the way of sustaining compositions that lend themselves to repeated interpretation. Thus, the continued reliance on the above referenced standards.

Perhaps more singers in the jazz tradition should follow the lead of Carmen Lundy. On her latest release, the velvety-voiced singer turns in nine original songs from her own pen. If unlikely to be confused with anything Ellington or Johnny Mercer wrote, several are still quite good – and at the very least, they're unarguably new.

No need to worry whether her version is derivative of Billie Holiday's or Ella Fitzgerald's – these are the first time these songs have been recorded, and Lundy gets to give them their first breath.

In nearly every case, she approaches each song with an almost regal restraint. Lundy never quite crosses the line that Sarah Vaughan did of putting technique above feeling, but nor does she ever plumb the emotional detritus of life the way Holiday did. Given that most of the songs are fairly edgy, even avant-garde, this approach may be the best.

Produced by her brother, bassist Curtis Lundy, the session features some of jazz's top instrumentalists: Bobby Watson on reeds, Ralph Peterson Jr. On drums, and Anthony Wonsey and Onaje Allan Gumbs switching off on piano.

The combination of top-rank players and challenging new material is an album that will hold your interest over repeated listenings, with a handful of songs that will stick in your head.