ALL YOU NEED IS THE GIRL (Mellotone) April Barrows
This is a fantastic record, and the artist should be on a major label. I've always had mixed feelings about vocal jazz standards. The music is timeless, but in many or most cases, the fabulous lyrics are written in the catchy vernacular of the time. What's catchy today is kitschy tomorrow, and to my ears, many of the best known tunes of the 30s and 40s sound corny today. But it not the music that sounds corny, it's the lyrics. I often wondered why more people aren't writing songs in a classic jazz style with lyrics that take the same classic approach and won't go out of date. That's exactly what April Barrows does.
There are lots of great jazz singers out there, there are even a number of them in Nashville. What there seems to be a profound lack of is great jazz songwriters. (Yes, I hope that this sentiment moves great and little known jazz songwriters to send their music for review.) April Barrows has been writing great jazz material for a number of years, and her '97 release on Kokopelli Records, My Dream is You, had rave reviews and a lot of airplay, but the label folded and killed some of the momentum crucial to the proper launch of a great artist.
All You Need is the Girl is absolutely loaded with great tunes, and the very cream of the crop of jazz players. Matt Rollings on piano is an understated knockout, as is Dennis Solee on tenor, alto and clarinet. I love co-producer and arranger David Hungate's guitar and trombone work, and Neal Rosengarden on trumpet is always a pleasure. There are 3 great bassists: mostly Larry Paxton, but Jim Ferguson and Charles Dungey also contribute superb tracks. Kenny Malone on drums again demonstrates in truly singular fashion that essential and invisible are not mutually exclusive. He can swing almost silently.
The vocal sound of April Barrows is alluringly smooth, sweet, and smart. Her melodies are as meticulous as her flawless lyrics. These are new jazz classics from a great artist. Jazz lovers everywhere, you'll be glad you picked it up. FG