Thursday, January 21, 2016

Album Review: Aurelia O'Leary- Jazz Standards

Aurelia O'Leary
Jazz Standards
**and1/2 out of *****

On her newest release the Francophone jazz singer Aurelia O'Leary tackles jazz (and one rock) standards in her own style; the title isn't lying. The basic choices but varied performance makes for a mixed final result but a fun experiment on the Quebec natives fourth album. 

The opening Cole Porter classic "Love For Sale" has a playful feel to it as O'Leary never takes the subject matter to serious, her vocals manage to scat with freedom at the closing. While in these jazz standard waters O'Leary works well. Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" gets energetically expanded while a more minimalist take arrives on Rodgers and Hammerstein "My Favorite Things" complete with sax solo nod to Coltrane. Other covers of classics like "My Funny Valentine" and the torch song closer "Cry Me A River" are expertly suited for O'Leary's vocal work. 

The Duke Ellington/Ella Fitzgerald "Caravan" becomes more experimental, switching tempos and abrasive percussive piano lines as O'Leary sings with smoldering restraint and confidence. It is a highlight of this collection along with the straight ahead smoothness of the rolling and weeping "Angel Eyes".

It is when the singer moves to the rock world where her only misstep occurs. O'Leary's back up band explores The Beatles "Come Together" with drive, experimentation and passion, but the singers vocal approach doesn't pair well with the band and makes for an awkward attempt in the end.

Singing in her second language adds a nuance to O'Leary's vocals that is engaging and different; breathing unique French-Canadian life into some of these standards. Her go for broke backing band helps as well, never scared of the originals, these tracks live on.
A more standard Jazz release for our Jazz Jan. Bandcamp keeps giving, support the artist, buy the disk and stream it below:

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