Style: Jazz Vocalist
Label: MaiSong Music & Entertainment
Musicians: Shirley Crabbe - Vocals; Jim West - Piano; Donald Vega - Piano; John Burr - Bass; Alvester Garnett - Drums; Brandon Lee - Trumpet; Dave Glasser - Saxophone & Flute; Matt Haviland - Trombone.
Special Guest: Houston Person - Tenor Saxophone ("Lucky To Be Me," "Strong Man")
|Jazz vocalist Shirley Crabbe|
Shirley Crabbe is a jazz vocalist who sings passionately from the heart: "Home" speaks to the heart in a variety of ways based on the choices she is able to make because of her classical training as a singer, enduring musical influences, and invaluable experience singing in various New York jazz clubs. She proceeds in a careful, ascending musical arc that starts out with two swinging appraisals of life; Leonard Bernstein's invigorating, "Lucky To Be Me," to which tenor saxophone icon Houston Person gives tremendous thrust and lift, with an after-burner solo, that positions the date onto an upward musical trajectory from which it never veers; and McCoy Tyner's luscious "You Taught My Heart To Sing," out of which comes a delectable solo from pianist Donald Vega.
Crabbe's voice is delightfully warm and smoothly matured. She sings with enviable intonation; is comfortable at any tempo, effortlessly executing each with an astute discernment of the lyric, and an interpretive profundity that facilitates adding another instrument (her voice) to the talented, versatile group of musicians playing behind her. She also shows brilliant form as an arranger on four of the tracks on the CD; most notably, "You Taught My Heart To Sing" and "Summertime."
Crabbe studied classical music, by day, at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and in the evening, she trekked downtown to sing jazz in the clubs. This routine brings to mind a similar habit of trumpeter Miles Davis when he first arrived in New York City in the early 40's, to study at the equally illustrious Julliard School of Music. He too used to attend classes during the day, and then 'go looking' for 'Bird' and 'Monk' at night in the jazz clubs on 52nd Street; not entirely undistinguished footsteps to follow in the musical sands of time.
Crabbe has amassed a superfluity of working experience during her career's nascence - performing at New York City's Metropolitan Room; Birdland; Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theatre; opening for the late Abbey Lincoln; working alongside jazz-fusion artists tenor/soprano saxophonist/composer Marion Meadows, urban jazz specialist, keyboardist Bob Baldwin; and performing with pianist Harold Maybern and bassist Jamil Nasser - she was inspired by The First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald, and is a staunch adherent to Ms. Fitzgerald's school of impeccable, fluid enunciation, and phrasing; elements of vocalizing that singer Frank Sinatra admitted also 'learning' from Ella. Crabbe displays both like second nature on the tender title track, Charlie Hall's "Home," and Sir Roland Hanna's poignant "Seasons." On both selections pianist Donald Vega displays sensitive, thoughtful pianism that perfectly complements the tone and mood of the song and allows Shirley Crabbe's voice to paint beautiful, rounded colors against the luxuriant palette he lays out beneath her.
As Crabbe continues to ease her way up this adaptable musical arc, its appeal becomes more intimate, she reaches deeper into her heart for expression and there is a sense that something special, even spiritual is happening, the band tactfully follows her lead into each moment of the songs, supporting her with 'less is more,' uncluttered backing and a bracing simplicity ("Strong Man," "Not While I'm Around"), that invoke memories of the magic made between Nancy Wilson and the Julian "Cannonball" Adderley Quintet during Wilson's historic 1962 singing debut. Houston Person returns with a 'strong' tenor presence on Oscar Brown Jr's "Strong Man," and Brandon Lee's muted trumpet on "Not While I'm Around" is deliciously haunting, yet offering the subtle strong-willed reassurance implied in the song's title.
Crabbe reaches the high-point of the CD's performance arc with a sincere and enchanting lyrical reading of Carol King's pop classic "You're So Far Away," making the song seem 'so right' for her voice. She extends the climax 'swingin' into Gershwin's "Summertime," adding heartfelt joy, appreciation and verve to the feeling of optimistic assurance inherent in the lyric; she ends the CD as she started it, stating a love for life with accented certainty, in spite of it's vicissitudes.
It is refreshing to listen to a 'pure' standard-setting jazz singer who adamantly eschews the use of vocal histrionics to 'get over,' instead relying on the best writers, committed musicians, and her own pristine talent. Jazz music is richer to have a vocalist of such high caliber as Shirley Crabbe, return "Home."
Track Listing: Lucky To Be Me; You Taught My Heart To Sing; Home; Seasons; Detour Ahead; Strong Man; Not While I'm Around; So Far Away; Summertime.
Recorded at Bennett Studios, Englewood NJ
Engineered by Alessandro Perrotta
Mixed by Katherine Miller at Annandale Recording
Mastered by Alan Silverman, Arf! Mastering, NYC
Manufactured and printed by Disc Makers
Liner Notes & Editor - Deborah Crabbe
Music Preparation Shirley Crabbe
Senior Executive Producer - Shirley Crabbe
Executive Producers - Deborah Crabbe, Helen Crabbe
Producer & Musical Director - Donald Vega
Production Assistant - Samantha Carlevaro