Recent listening, current

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

109. Julie London / Julie is Her Name (1955)

Julie London's range and the timbre of her voice is one that sits very well with me. Ensconced within her silky mezzo soprano is a space filled with sumptuous partials and overtones that make a single note sound like a chord. Her voice and my wife's are quite similar so when I listen, I sense something familiar. In the classic debut Julie is Her Name, London's young voice is the main attraction and backed often by only a guitar. Her phrasing and timing leave you on the edge of your seat, wondering where the next phrase will fall ("It Never Entered My Mind"). She's always playing this way with the lyrics and her timing, while Barney Kessel anxiously holds back comping. Later in her career, she fronted a big band whose eloquence and power gave her smoldering vocals and lovelorn ballads some extra emotional impact. But here it's all Julie. The album opens with the quintessential "Cry Me a River," and moves through 12 other standards and ballads including aforementioned, quirky "It Never Entered My Mind," and the beautiful "Laura." There's also a second volume, which is just as bit as this first volume, two records that should be on every jazz lovers shelf.

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