Friday, August 19, 2022

Tracye Eileen: “You Hit The Spot” (2022) CD Review

Sometimes we need reminding that there is much about life and this world to celebrate, and that everything worth celebrating is in some way tied to love. Jazz vocalist Tracye Eileen does exactly that on her new album, You Hit The Spot. Tracye Eileen is drawn to love songs, and does a fantastic job delivering them, her passion for the music clear in every note she sings. On this new release, she is backed by two different bands. Three of the album’s tracks were recorded in the studio with Jeremy Kahn on piano, Jon Deitemyer on drums, Stewart Miller on bass, Steve Eisen on reeds, Raphael Crawford on trombone, and Victor Garcia on trumpet. The other five were recorded in front of an audience. On these tracks, she is backed by the trio of Dennis Luxion on piano, Paul Martin on bass, and Linard Stroud on drums.

Tracye Eileen kicks off the album with a cheerful, lively rendition of “I Love Being Here With You,” delivering a vocal performance that is both sweet and seductive, and with an undeniable power. I love the way she varies her approach even within a single song, as if it is occurring to her in the moment how she wants to sing a particular line. It all feels very natural and immediate. This track also features some wonderful stuff form the horn section, as well as a totally cool bass line. This song feels like a celebration of both music and love. There is more delicious work on bass on the title track, “You Hit The Spot.” Plus, this track features some great work on trumpet. “You hit the spot/Like a balmy breeze on a night in May/You hit the spot/Like a cool mint julep on a summery day.” It’s not always easy to explain just exactly why we love the people we do, and sometimes it is a matter of that man or woman hitting that spot for us. Tracye Eileen captures that sensation, that joy perfectly.

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is one of my personal favorites. It is the first of the album’s tracks to feature the trio backing her, the first of the live tracks. Tracye Eileen totally owns this one right from the start. The way she seems to move about is playfully seductive, and I love the way she delivers those opening lines, “The way you wear the hat/The way you sip your tea,” holding onto the “s” in “sip,” a nice bit of sibilance. That’s followed by another live track from that same trio, a fun, spirited rendition of “Almost Like Being In Love.” There is something delightfully loose about it. “What a day this has been/What a rare mood I’m in/Well, it’s almost like being in love/There’s a smile on my face/For the whole human race.” Ah, that is rare indeed, particularly these days. But what a great feeling.

I have very few traditions, but one thing I do every Thanksgiving is watch the movie Home For The Holidays, directed by Jodie Foster. At the end of this film, there is a sweet montage where we see the characters in their happiest moments, and the song that plays during this is “The Very Thought Of You.” It’s a beautiful sequence, that song being a big part of it. Tracye Eileen offers her own take on this great song, giving us a warm and passionate rendition. I love her approach. This is another track to feature the trio supporting her, and there is some wonderful work on piano. It is a gorgeous and moving version. “I see your face in every flower/Your eyes in stars above/It’s just the thought of you/The very thought of you/My love.” That’s followed by “Just In Time.” The beginning of this song is okay, nothing out of the ordinary, but that moment when Tracye Eileen sings the title line, like thirty-seven seconds in, everything becomes incredibly cool. Her vocals at that point are supported by bass, and her performance is captivating, the delivery at times a playful whisper. After a while, the piano and drums come in, and things get even better.

I’ve never seen The Boys From Syracuse, which is crazy, because I am a huge Shakespeare nut, and that musical is based on his The Comedy Of Errors. From that musical, Tracye Eileen chooses “This Can’t Be Love,” written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. This is the last of the live tracks, and it features a bass lead in the middle, and a playful vocal performance. The album then concludes with a beautiful rendition of “The End Of A Love Affair,” a fitting choice for an album closer. “So I walk a little too fast/And I drive a little too fast/And I’m reckless, it’s true/But what else can you do/At the end of a love affair?

CD Track List

  1. I Love Being Here With You
  2. You Hit The Spot
  3. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
  4. Almost Like Being In Love
  5. The Very Thought Of You
  6. Just In Time
  7. This Can’t Be Love
  8. The End Of A Love Affair

You Hit The Spot is scheduled to be released on August 26, 2022 on Honey Crystal Records.

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