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Kimberley Gordon Trio|
(The Sirens Records, 2004, R-5009)
Review Date: October 2007
by Steve Mainwaring
Foolhardy, courageous or just confident? Which word you use depends on how well you think it comes off. This Kimberly Gordon Trio album is exactly that, a trio album. She sings with Chris Foreman on piano and Joe Policastro on double bass. No guest solos from saxophonists or guitarists. No pillows of lush strings on the more romantic numbers. And nowhere to hide for the musicians.
They use the acres of aural space this gives them well. Each of them is obviously a good enough musician to know they don’t have to prove it every time, and their relaxed air communicates itself to the listener.
Kimberly Gordon’s style indicates extensive listening to Ella Fitzgerald. She sings in the same register with a similar tone and approach. While this is in itself no bad thing – if you’re going to learn from anybody, go to the best – she should perhaps give songs that are associated with Ella a wider berth than she does. The originals set a standard that is impossible to improve on, and starting off this CD with “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good” is a case in point. Gordon sounds similar enough to Ella to keep reminding me of the latter’s beautiful version of this with Duke Ellington’s orchestra (including a gloriously sexy alto sax solo by Johnny Hodges) and, frankly, making me wish I were listening to that instead.
Don’t get me wrong. Kimberly Gordon is a fine singer and this is an album to put on when you get yourself a whisky and put your feet up to relax in front of the fire. But is what the world needs now really another jazz singer tackling the Great American Songbook? Songs like “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning”, “Mr Sandman” and “Too Close For Comfort” have been interpreted so well so many times that something special is needed to justify another version.
Doing an album with just piano and bass shows that Kimberly has spunk. It would be nice to see her demonstrate that by moving away from everybody else’s repertoire. There are plenty of contemporary songwriters whose work would benefit from interpretations like these. Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Richard Thompson, Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison all spring to mind, and it would be great to hear her pushing the envelope a little more on her next album. In the meantime she is definitely one to watch.
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