Quality-something not always valued in contemporary culture-- is synonymous with the Great American Songbook. The standards, along with a small but impressive group of jazz songs written during the 20 years from 1945 to 1965, were crafted in a manner that exudes perfection, and in our time that results in both pleasure and knowledge. For the listener to be impressed with that musical excellence, the melodies and lyrics need to be performed by an artist whose skills are at a commensurately high level. Laurie Bordonaro is that vocalist. In a career that has covered jazz studies at the Berklee School of Music, the Los Angeles pop-rock scene in the 1980's, and the delights and challenges of many private parties, she has now reached maturity as a jazz singer that belies comfort with the repertoire. Don't guess for a minute, however, that she's coasting. That she puts her heart and soul into each 3 - 5 minute performance is unmistakably evident on every song on this CD. The best way to describe Laurie's style is swingin' confidence. There's no strain or urgency to her singing. She lays behind the beat, creating forward propulsion that's infectious, a sure prescription for musical pleasure. The listener also gets challenged, in a most delightful way. The 'Killer Joe' intro to Surrey with the Fringe On Top and the a capella beginning of I Love You, and the surprises Laurie springs in tempo and mood (rarely have I heard I Thought About You sung as a slow ballad) are good examples to demonstrate Laurie's hip craftswomanship. In a similar manner, we can appreciate her scatting-on St. Thomas and Surrey-as evidence of her absorption of the legacy of Ella, Sarah, Carmen, and Mark Murphy. A great singer needs superb accompanists, and Sal Macaluso, George Jones, Rick Strauss, Bill Staebell, Danny Hull, John Bacon Jr. and Louie Marino are up to the task. Of particular note is saxophonist Ben Mozee, Laurie's husband, who plays the tenor with a gorgeous, golden sonority. So I'm sure you will enjoy hearing Laurie Bordonaro on this recording. And like my listeners, and me, I know you'll learn something too. Dick Judelsohn BeBop & Beyond Since 1976, Dick Judelsohn has been the host of BeBop & Beyond, on WBFO, Sundays at 8 PM wbfo.org.
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