Linda Calise,
La Vie/My Life
(independent, 2015)

Vocal jazz is experiencing a rebirth right now. The rise of indie production has enabled jazz singers, traditionally an overlooked category where only the very best got recorded and heard outside their hometowns, to get in on the action. The good side of this is that many more performers have a chance to get their music out to a public. The downside is that many of these new indie efforts that cross my desk do not, shall we say, live up to their full potential.

When the artist is picking up the tab for the recording, a tendency to sacrifice quality in an attempt to keep the budget down can doom an otherwise good project.

I mention all this only to cheer Linda Calise for not making that mistake. A fine singer, Calise cares about more than how her voice sounds; she and producer Joe Carrier have created a lavish, warm recording where each song receives the treatment that suits it best. The opening cut, "Good Morning Heartache," uses a large and lush string section whose playing wraps the song up like a baby in a blanket, giving Calise a comfortable cushion that allows her voice to float. The cut signals that good stuff is ahead. Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" certainly lives up to the promise that "Good Morning Heartache" hints at. As the album progresses, it gets stronger, with each song giving you more unusual voicings and touches to get lost in.

Calise has a taste for the unusual. She throws in a little old school r&b with "Since I Fell for You," and follows it with the traditional "The Water is Wide." Both take chances. Both pay off.

So, what are we dealing with here? A gorgeous voice, fine arrangements, good song choices, careful production and a high degree of risk-taking.

That's my kind of album.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

7 November 2015

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