Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gretje Angell: “… In Any Key” (2019) CD Review

Gretje Angell is a jazz vocalist based in Los Angeles. A love of music clearly runs in her family, as both her father and grandfather were jazz drummers. Gretje has sung with several groups, and is now releasing her solo debut full-length album, …In Any Key, a disc that is a total delight. The music she has chosen to cover here is mostly classic, well-known fare, and she gives these songs a fresh and lively vibe. Her vocal work is vibrant and friendly and endearing. Joining her on this release are Dori Amarilio on guitar, Kevin Axt on bass, Gabe Davis on bass, Steve Hass on drums, Kevin Winard on percussion, and some other guests on certain tracks.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this once or twice, but you can never go wrong with Gershwin. Gretje Angell chooses a wonderful Gershwin tune to open this album, “(Our) Love Is Here To Stay,” a song from the 1938 film The Goldwyn Follies. And she delivers a delightful and sweet rendition, with a pleasant groove, and even a bit of scat partway through. The song’s opening lines now seem perhaps more pertinent than ever: “The more I read the papers, the less I comprehend/The world and all its capers, and how it all will end/Nothing seems to be lasting, but that isn’t our affair.” In these twisted days, our personal relationships are more important than ever, as the larger world has grown stupid and horrid, and this song – after briefly mentioning the troubles of the world – focuses on a relationship. And so it is a positive tune. We all return to love, recognizing that it is the most important thing. And even if love might drive us crazy from time to time, it is also the only thing that will keep us sane. Dori Amarilio delivers some nice work on guitar here. Gretje follows that with another song written for a film, Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned,” from the 1942 movie You Were Never Lovelier. She gives us some bright, cheerful-sounding scat at the beginning of this one. I absolutely love her vocal approach to this song. There is something cool, yet friendly and familiar about her voice. Plus, this track features some wonderful work on guitar. And there is some swing to this track. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Gretje Angell has an interesting approach to “Fever.” This version has a somewhat fuller sound than some of my favorite renditions, with a different and prominent Latin rhythm, giving it a Santana-like sound. Yet, Gretje’s vocals still have an intimate feel. Quinn Johnson plays keys on this track. Gretje then turns romantic with a beautiful and tender rendition of “Deep In A Dream,” which features Michael Hunter on trumpet. Chuck Berghofer plays bass on this track. Another favorite of mine is “One Note Samba.” She begins this one with some beautiful, heavenly scat delivered a cappella, before getting into that rhythm and the lyrics. I love that approach. Here she is accompanied only by Dori Amarilio on guitar, and his work is excellent. Dori, by the way, also produced, arranged and mixed the tracks on this disc. That’s followed by “Tea For Two,” written by Vincent Youmans. This is a song that I’ve always considered a kind of goofy, playful tune. But Gretje’s take on it is rather pretty and sweet, and features more good work on guitar. As with “One Note Samba,” Dori Amarilio’s guitar provides the only accompaniment to Gretje’s voice. This version is giving me a new appreciation for this famous song. The album then concludes with “Them There Eyes,” Gretje providing a lively vocal performance, with some scat, accompanied by some cool jazzy guitar. This is a wonderful and playful track, a great way to finish her debut release.

CD Track List
  1. (Our) Love Is Here To Stay
  2. I’m Old Fashioned
  3. Fever
  4. Deep In A Dream
  5. Berimbau
  6. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
  7. One Note Samba
  8. Tea For Two
  9. Them There Eyes 
…In Any Key is scheduled to be released on July 25, 2019.

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