WRITING ABOUT JAZZ:
LEARNING ABOUT JAZZ:
LISTENING TO JAZZ:
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ.
WINNER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS 2010 CHELSEA-ROEBUCK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN WEB MEDIA JOURNALISM.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
CD: Review-Claire Dickson: Scattin' Doll
Style: Jazz Vocal
Musicians: Claire Dickson - Vocals; Michael McLaughlin - Piano; Greg Loughman - Bass; Eric Rosenthal - Drums; Gary Bohan - Flugelhorn & Cornet; Dan Fox - Trombone; Glen Dickson - Bass Clarinet.
Label: Naftule's Dream Recordings.
Jazz Vocalist Claire Dickson Photo courtesy: wn.com
Review: 14-year- old jazz vocalist Claire Dickson of Medford, Mass., plucks songs from the pantheon of American popular/jazz music like a disarmingly precocious young girl, joyously skipping along a picturesque country lane picking beautiful wild flowers to hand out to the people she loves. She is not content to snag what's blooming within easy roadside reach; instead she climbs through hedges, thickets and underbrush, silently suffering the scrapes, scratches, bumps, abrasions and torn clothing that measure her determination and true character, in order to reach that "killer" flower, intended for someone else's happiness.
So is her singing on her debut CD: Scattin' Doll. She has devoted a solid thirty-eight minutes scattin' and singing with a verve and fascination, way beyond her years, going from the 1952 Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol classic "Caravan" to Charlie "Bird" Parker's bebop jazz standard "Ornithology." Coolly cruising along this musical boulevard she makes stops at Paul Francis Webster & Sonny Burke's: "Black Coffee;" Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn's: "Love Me or Leave Me;" Sonny Burke, Lionel Hampton & Johnny Mercer's: "Midnight Sun;" Dave Carter's: "Phantom Doll;" Cole Porter's: "Just One of Those Things;" George and Ira Gershwin's: "My Man's Gone Now;" and Frank Loesser's: "If I Were a Bell."
This 14-year-old jazz vocal phenom does not sing silly songs!
Claire Dickson is a two time winner of Downbeat Magazine's "Best Jazz Vocalist, Junior High School Level. Astonishingly, this CD was recorded in two sessions when she was 12 and 13 years old. It is difficult to imagine how a 12 or 13 year old could manage to sing with the emotional maturity and professional interpretation of the lyric as she displays here. A look into her upbringing might help. At age 11, her father exposed her to the vocal magic of the great 'First Lady of Song,' Ella Fitzgerald. By age 12 she had absorbed a sizable chunk of Ella's recordings and gone on to explore the talents of 'Sassy' Sarah Vaughan and Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. The jazz fire was lit and it burns fiercely in this CD: Scattin' Doll.
The CD has 10 tracks and it has the young singer working with a full compliment of musicians and in a trio setting with piano, bass and drums. At this stage of her voice development, she seems to work exceptionally well with the trio. She has talent to burn. When she is backed by the trio, she sings in a lower pitch range where she is more stable vocally and her intonation sparkles. She puts on a stellar performance on "Black Coffee"(track 3), which she executes with a depth of emotion and an interpretive command of the lyric that no 11 or 13 year old should possess; Michael McLoughlin's piano paints slow, deliberate, sombre colors and she just pours her heart out all over them; Greg Loughlan's walking bass gives the tune that deep lost feeling inherent in the tune's title; and Eric Rosenthal's quiet drum work adds the beat that keeps everything rock steady. This is a gem.
"Midnight Sun" (track 5) has the teen and the trio working with a tricky Johnny Mercer lyric. McLaughlin's piano accompaniment is relaxed, smooth and stable, allowing her to pull off the song with a delightful sentimental flair.
George and Ira Gershwin's "My Man's Gone Now," (track 8)from Porgy and Bess, which she sings with simple piano accompaniment in grieving, doleful, folksy colors, reminiscent of a Joan Baez, gives the listener a focused look at the wide range of her vocal talent Her ability to traverse between musical genres with unhurried, flowing grace and to equip a song with such profound emotion and depth of passion at such a young age is stunning.
On the tunes she sings backed by the full band, a standout is "Love Me or Leave Me" (track 4); which has some nice trombone work by Dan Fox."Phantom Doll" (track 6) is the sleeper on the disk, it seems to be written just for her, has a catchy melody and is sung with an energetic bounce, as a bonus there is a tasty piano backing by Michael McLaughlin.
Her best 'scatting' and improvisational work can be heard on "Confirmation," (track 2) and "Ornithology/How High the Moon"(track 10).
This debut CD: Scattin' Doll is a tremendous accomplishment for Claire Dickson. She has the courage to share her dream, the attitude of a seasoned professional and she must be applauded and encouraged for the pride, joy of spirit, infectious enthusiasm and tremendous talent which she has brought to a monumentally challenging task. She is a talent to watch, and as her voice matures, only the sky can limit what she can achieve as a jazz vocalist.
Track Listing: Caravan; Confirmation; Black Coffee; Love Me or Leave Me; Midnight Sun; Phantom Doll; Just One of Those Things; My Man's Gone Now; If I Were a Bell; Ornithology/How High The Moon.