Lady Mem'fis, vocals; Tammy Hall and James Campbell, piano; Mike Bacile and Mark (Heshima) Williams, bass; Bobby Tynes and Robert Stewart, tenor sax; Ranzell Merritt and Mark Lee, drums; Raul Ramirez, percussion; Kash Killion, cello.
Lady Mem'fis in this self-produced CD has wisely chosen material which could be daunting for a lesser talent. She lives up to it and more with her sensuous phrasing and reverence for intonation.
The first cut of "Blue Skies" is a swinging version of the Irving Berlin standard with excellent accompaniment by Bobby Tynes on tenor saxophone, Tammy Hall on piano and tasty solos by Mike Bacile on bass and Ranzell Merritt on drums. Lady Mem'fis covers "Stormy Weather" with achingly beautiful lament. Although Lady Mem'fis gives homage to Helen Humes in the liner notes for "Exactly Like You," the arrangement and Robert Stewartís tenor saxophone accompaniment evoke memories of Etta Jones and Houston Person. On "Them There Eyes," Lady Mem'fis exudes a playful style with a catch in her lyrics which is captivating. Lady Mem'fis covers "Such A Night" with a lively sensitivity.
Of the fourteen cuts on this CD, the most moving is "Strange Fruit." Who could forget Lady Day's version of this heartache of a song? Lady Mem'fis does it! And her version of "Water Boy" is just absolutely superb with Kash Killion brilliant on cello accompaniment. These two cuts alone are worth investing in this CD which features a more gifted vocalist than you are likely to find on many of the commercially marketed products.
by Dorothy L. Hill
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, April 2003 issue, all rights reserved