ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Review by: Michael Bailey
The first listen is simply heating the snifter to introduce the complex and commanding music made as essence to the listener. The second and subsequent listenings consumes the musical liquor of the talent and vision of vocalist and composer Jenny Davis, who reveals a very sophisticated creative method existing at the triple point of her singing, composing and activism. Davis’s previous recordings It Amazes Me (Self Produced, 2006) and Inside You (Self Produced, 2010) were well received, setting Davis up to the challenge of expanding on them. Davis’ fourth recording as a leader, Rearranged, resulted from her Yeoman Warders Project launched last year. To Davis, Yeoman Warders is a metaphor for raising children in a dangerous world—where parents behave as the Queen’s guard (ergo, Yeoman Warders)—determined, loyal and sometimes reticent in the face of ignorance, fear, or hatred. The metaphor reveals the duty of a parent standing watch allowing the children to thrive in freedom—safe in a sanctuary of parental protection, without concern or judgment. In a word…tolerance. This is grownup music for grownups.
Davis uses her jazz vocals medium to convey her feelings and support for this project. It is both a labor of love and a dedicated vocation toward something bigger and better, using music as the vehicle. Within the dozen selections contained herein lies a triptych of songs addressing the heart of her project: “Come with Me” is Davis inviting the listener into a Utopian world of acceptance where old beliefs are questioned and truth and beauty are revealed and celebrated. Yeoman Warders” is something else altogether, a micro saxophone quartet suite scored in three brief movements: a waltz prelude, “Utopia Changes,” addressing a time of innocence between mother and child, where belief is strong and safety assured, followed by smoky minor-key blues, ostensibly representing truth revealing, and “Mother Bear,” an expression of anger toward a dangerous culture. The music is emotive, full of pathos and vigor. “Yeoman Warders” is the disc’s fulcrum, centering and balancing the collection.
Finally, the title piece, “Rearranged,” is given two performances: a studio version performed by Davis’s core trio, pianist Jovino Santos Neto, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Jeff Busch, and a string quartet version performed live, closing the disc. Lyrically, the song is an inward prayer, an appeal to self awareness and one’s personal responsibility, and for the awful grace necessary to love one’s enemies. Davis’ music is her message.
But there is more to Rearranged than this core element. Davis’ overall product is seasoned with wispy Latin vibes (“Aceptar” and “Gemini Tango”) and jaunty urban chansons (“And What If I Don’t” and “Invitation”). The supporting Jovino Santos Neto trio has an expansive genre palette capable of addressing all of Davis’ disparate creative aims. Chuck Deardorf shows off mad elastic electric bass skills on Herbie Hancock‘s “And What If I Don’t” before switching to double bass and soloing in golden convention on “Come With Me.” Heather Bentley and David Lang bring the old world charm to “Gemini Tango” with their respective violin and accordion. Mark Taylor makes “Wise Up” pop with his alto saxophone, while tenor saxophonist Kurt Festinger blows free on “Aceptar.”
Reviewed by: George Harris
Clear and indie-voiced Jenny Davis fronts an ensemble of Jovino Santos Neto/p, Chuck Deardorf/b, Jeff Busch/dr and a mix and match cast of Kurt Festinger/ts, Dmitri Mathenhy/fh, Mark Taylor/as, Heather Bentley /vi-va, David Lange/acc, Lorrie Ruiz-Vanessa Littrell/voc and the Yeoman Warders Sax Quartet for a melding of originals and arranged jazz themes. She takes Herbie Hancock’s “And What If I Don’t”, for example, and gives a hip soul funk to it along with the bouncy horns, while she’s lyrical with Neto on her own Tin Pan Alley-themed “Answer The Call”. The eerie “Gemini Tango” has her gliding across the floor and twinkling in the starry night, while she shows her bop chops with Taylor as they bounce through the shuffling “Wise Up”. Davis lets the Sax Quartet of Kate Olson/ss, Cynthia Mullis/ts, Jim Dejoie/bs and Taylor get Mingusy on “Yeoman Warders” whereas the Sirius String Quartet provides gravitas as she gives a glorious aria on concert performance of the title pieces. She is flexible enough to change moods like a musical Cirque du Soleil.
MAKING A SCENE
Reviewed by: Jim Hynes
“Highly ambitious album – elegantly complex which lends itself to repeated listens. The high caliber musical talent. Hit repeat; there’s plenty to absorb in this beautiful work.”
Davis is not just simply a superb singer, she is a progressive composer and bandleader where her art of composition is the focus here. All but three works were composed by Davis. She collaborates with three- time Grammy nominated Seattle-based pianist Jovino Santos Neto. He brings his trio to album, contributes an arrangement and helped Davis recruit 11 other contributors including the Yeoman Warders Sax Quartet and vocalists Lorrie Ruiz and Vanessa Litrell.
For full text review, click on link below:
Reviewed by: Eliana Fermi
So many times, in the jazz genre, female composers are overlooked if they are also singers. There is merit to a crafted, well-honed lyric, something the general populous can connect with conveying the story within the melody and easing a suffering heart or adding an accent to a joyous occasion. Going through this moment in time with the COVID-19 pandemic, this truth is never more evident. Enter Jenny Davis, based in the Pacific Northwest, Rearranged, is Davis’ fourth album as a leader. This time around, it is her compositions that take center stage, with nine original pieces and two well-chosen nuggets “And What If I Don’t” (Herbie Hancock) and “Invitation,” (Bronislau Kaper). The album is rounded out with an all-star cast, including three-time Grammy-nominated, Seattle-based Brazilian musician, Jovino Santos Neto, on piano.
Positives: Davis has a depth to her writing; her vocal delivery is skilled with a warming tone that endears the listener to pay attention and absorb her message.
Bottom Line: Davis compositions focus on the expanse of human subjects, “Aceptar,” is given a Latin treatment with a romantic lyric of devotion with an emotion of ataraxia and beauty. “And What If I Don’t,” a Herbie Hancock tune, offers a cheekiness, and Davis delivers the song with wit and playfulness with an angularity that is carried forward with Neto’s solo note choices. Of note is “Come With Me” (featured in October 2019 on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series). Davis is joined in harmony with Vanessa Littrell, the two blend with an incontrovertible refinement. The album offers a suite on “Yeoman Warders” there are three movements for jazz saxophone quartet. The first expressing a tenderness of innocence, with the second section unfolding into a minor blues section, that emotes are more aggressive representative of the confusions of society. Giving way to a third section that evokes a protective mother and the forbearance she can bring with a strength, reminiscent of the complexity of Mingus from textural and colorization of writing style. Each track has its own story and luminescence. I encourage you to take the journey and find your apologue within Rearranged. That’s the short of it!
Reviewed By: Susan Frances
Like a modern day Doris Day, singer-songwriter Jenny Davis has a classic, mellifluous style to singing jazz tunes. Her new album Inside You from Little Footnote Productions features her rendition of such nostalgic numbers as Rodgers and Hart’s “My Romance” and A.C. Jobim’s “No More Blues,” in addition to her original track “Inside You” and the classic pop ditty “Blackbird” penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Every track has a candlelight aura that makes them suited for lounges, tea rooms, and supper clubs.
Davis’ vocal intonations bring out a richness in the words that draw out their meaning like when her voice plumes pleasantly as she sings, “Into each life some rain must fall but too much is falling into mine.” The saxophone solo by Louis Aissen in “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” rise up to the Cliffs of Mohar emoting both sorrow and hope in the trickling notes. The cruising swells of Chuck Easton’s guitar on “Morning Glory” furnish a warm berth for Davis’ lullaby versed inflections. The smooth Latin rhythm of “No More Blues” is tailored to Davis’ elegant timbres contrasting the upbeat stride of her vocals along “Confirmation” by Charlie Parker. The folksy tendrils of “Blackbird” cause Davis to reach into the lower register of her vocals making the song feel heavy, while the silky and sensuous touch of the throbbing bassline along “Softly” bring out the seductress in Jenny Davis’ voice which showcase the refined nuances of her vocal intonations.
Jenny Davis’ album Inside You is the kind of music you would not mind having with you if you should find yourself locked someplace or trapped on a deserted island. Her songs would keep you sane while distracting you from worrying about your dire circumstances. Accompanied by Chuck Easton on guitar and flute, Ted Enderle on bass, and Louis Aissen on tenor saxophone, Jenny Davis’ recording has all the facets that have made jazz music feel intimate and most importantly her vocal style draws audiences into that intimacy.
Jenny Davis – vocals, Chuck Easton – guitar and flute, Ted Enderle – bass, and Louis Aissen – tenor saxophone on “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall:
When Your Love Has Gone (E.A. Swan), On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper, Washington), Inside You (Jenny Davis), My Romance (Rodgers and Hart), Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall (Doris Fischer and A. Roberts), Morning Glory (Rodgers Grant), No More Blues (A.C. Jobim), Confirmation (Charlie Parker), Blackbird (John Lennon and Paul McCartney), Softly (S. Romberg and O. Hammerstein)
CMJ JAZZ CHART
Jenny Davis Hits the CMJ Jazz Chart For the 4th Week
Unaffected and Organic
Davis Hits All the Right Notes
Jenny Davis has a very unaffected organic vocal quality. Her notes ring pure and her diction is crystalline and inviting. This coupled with the intimacy of a guitar led ensemble creates the transparency that is so beautiful within the jazz genre, bassist Ted Enderle and guest saxist Louis Aissen round out the ensemble for a delightfully engaging offering.
Inside You features a well chosen set of standards not so commonly covered in the vocal jazz arena, which is a signature trait of Davis’ carried over into her junior release. The title track is also a Davis original that has an angular vibe to the melody. Her ability to easily translate from one transition to the next within this composition is a true testament to her abilities and musicality as a vocalist and writer.
Jazz is a genre that is presented live in many venues across the nation in small ensemble settings. The intimacy and chemistry between the players is at its best when presented in this setting. What is most evident immediately is the strength and control Davis has with her instrument. Guitarist, Chuck Easton and Davis along with bassist Ted Enderle have created a conversational jazz, which is truly why many listen to standards in the first place. They enjoy the lyrical story line and intimacy of the genre.
What Inside You offers is a clear signature sound vocally, texturally and musically. Davis is truly coming into her own stride as a performer and writer. A befitting junior offering from this northwest artist, we hope to continue to enjoy for years to come.
JAZZ TIMES – CD Review: Jenny Davis Inside You
Review By: Wilbert Sostre (December 3, 2010)
Jazz standards in an intimate format of just guitar, bass and clear, rich vocals that is the new album of Jenny Davis, Inside You. Jenny Davis vocals are equally soulful and honest in ballads like “My Romance” or swingin pieces like “On Green Dolphin Street”. Like any good jazz musician Jenny uses her voice as an instrument, improvising and playing with the melodies. She is the kind of singer that gets deep into the songs and makes you feel the lyrics.
Jenny has a unique style yet deeply rooted in the jazz and vocalese tradition, evident in her phrasing and improvisations on Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”, Kaper’s “On Green Dolphin Sreet” and the slow swingin’ of “Softly as in the Morning Sunrise.”
Brazilian music, especially the music from composer Tom Jobim has become standards fixed in the repertoire of most jazz singers. Jenny is not the exception with her wonderful interpretation of Jobim’s “No More Blues”. The album also includes an original by Jenny, “Inside You”, with a modern jazz feel and a lovely version of one of my favorites McCartney and Lennon songs, “Blackbird.”
Reviewed by Adam Greenberg
On her third album, Northwest singer Jenny Davis continues a thread started in previous releases. Instead of drawing solely from the American Songbook, as is common for contemporary jazz vocalists, Davis digs through other elements of the jazz repertoire. The classic So On her third album, Northwest singer Jenny Davis continues a thread started in previous releases. Instead of drawing solely from the American Songbook, as is common for contemporary jazz vocalists, Davis digs through other elements of the jazz repertoire. The classic Songbook writers are all present, but often in tracks that were perhaps better known as instrumentals: “On Green Dolphin Street” indeed is probably better known in association with Coltrane or Miles Davis than Ned Washington. Davis ably transitions Jobim’s “No More Blues” into more of a modern nightclub sound with only the slightest Brazilian inflection. She warbles over Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” in a solfege-like delivery reminiscent of Annie Ross (or even Dizzy Gillespee). She softens the Beatles “Blackbird” just a bit before leaving as well. Through the whole, Davis is backed up by the ever-present guitar of Chuck Easton and its bubbling, bouncing sound, as well as the standby bass of Ted Enderle. The album feels a little less adventurous than her previous outings, but is still a fine set from a fine singer.
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record
JENNY DAVIS/Inside: We liked her before, we like her again. With a simple, subtle background, jazz vocalist Davis takes center stage with her voice and all the pluck she can put into and behind it. Tackling another set of mostly classics and chestnuts, Davis takes it back to the original jazz diva days before the current crop of manufactured ones with manufactured attitudes. Rolling it back to the day when talent was enough, Davis shows she has more than enough. A sweet set for adult ears that want it straight and uncut, if she’s just going to insist on getting better each time out, we’re enjoying this and already looking forward to the next. Hot stuff.
All About Jazz
By: C. Michael Bailey, All about Jazz
Jenny Davis’ It Amazes Me (Self Produced, 2006) was a relaxed tuneful affair employing a crack quintet capable of multiple layers of musicianship. For Inside You, Davis whittles her quintet to a duo, featuring her regular guitarist Chuck Easton, and bassist Ted Enderle, furnishing a stripped-down swing that depends on its own momentum with which to propel it. From the near orchestral duet with Easton on “When Your Lover Has Gone” to the brilliantly spare duet with Enderle on “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” Davis displays major deep and dense growth since her flagship It Amazes Me.
Outstanding in the mix is Davis’ note-perfect performance of Eddie Jefferson’s lyric-fortified version of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.” Where King Pleasure was able to divine Parker’s blues aesthetic from “Parker’s Mood,” Jefferson captures the whole of be bop in his love affair with “Confirmation.” Fast, complex, and readily engaging, the head of “Confirmation” invites intricate duets like that of alto saxophonist Art Pepper and bassist George Mraz from Art Pepper: The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions (Contemporary,1995). Davis and Easton dodge raindrops in a spring shower as they skip through it, with Enderle showing the way. Easton and Enderle each take a chorus solo, each supporting the other, before scooping up Davis for the coda. Vocalese rarely gets better than this.
JENNY DAVIS, INSIDE YOU
Review By: Rob Lester
“Morning Glory” is one of the appealing, if atypical, tracks on the latest CD by the understated, ear-pleasing singer Jenny Davis. Writer Rodgers Grant is telling the story of emotional attachment between a “lady of the evening” and one of her men. There’s nothing smarmy or blatantly sexual about it; in fact, it’s rather poetic and vulnerable. The singer gets “inside” a song at times, but subtly so. The first cut, “When Your Lover Has Gone,” at first strikes one used to its renditions as a lonely, lovelorn, love-worn lament sung weepily by Sinatra and others may be taken aback. Why so dispassionate and matter-of-fact? Is she to be lumped in with so many jazz-oriented vocalists who eschew the demonstrative and the digging deeply inside the lyrics, just digging the groove of the music and glorying in that? That’s the temptation of the first impression if you haven’t encountered her before. She could be “one of those.” But wait a minute. The lyric really is about feeling rather apathetic and energy-sapped more than crying in anguish (“When you’re alone/ Who cares for starlit skies? … Like faded flowers, life can’t mean anything…”). Maybe it’s a calculated choice. Maybe not. The other songs don’t get her especially riled up and there is a “cool” distance from some other lyrics that might call out for more intensity. Her light, jazzy voice sounds comfortably in her own comfort zone of understated vocalizing with some touches of improvisation.
So, who is this Miss Davis? This pleasing, easy-on-the-ears singer based in the state of Washington had not previously in my state of awareness. I’m glad to belatedly find her on this latest self-produced CD. Her website tells me that this is her first album in five years, and the brief liner notes say that the main accompanist here, guitarist Chuck Easton (who doubles on flute, briefly), has been a musical colleague for 15 years. He’s excellent as a player and true partner. Rodgers & Hart’s perennial “My Romance” gives his instrument a nod in the lyric, of course, as the things not needed for romance and romantic mood are ticked off (“No month of May, no twinkling stars, no hideaway, no soft guitars”). It’s a cozy rendition of a song that never seems to get old and tired, despite having debuted on Broadway 75 years ago this week. They sing and play this with real affection and no affectation. The other show tune is the even-older operetta warhorse that ends the album, “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” (Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II); the old school expectation of something stiff and stoic, floridly and poetically parading the aspects of love is loose and limber in these hands. Though they are hardly the first to take this route, it still impresses, if the operetta context is your reference point. Easy does it and it’s a pleasure to ease into their relaxed manner that makes the lyric seem more conversationally contemporary—to an extent.
Along the way, there are other jazz touchstones: something from Charlie Parker (a well-tackled trip through the tricky “Confirmation” that confirms Jenny’s ease with big league jazz challenges; a breezy stroll “On Green Dolphin Street”; skimming across Jobim’s infectious “No More Blues”). The title song is the one example of the singer’s own songwriting and it’s a nimble number, too, low-key but well-crafted. Rounding out this jazzy flight is “Blackbird,” Paul McCartney’s piece which might seem a bit too casual if you know its context of commenting on a racial incident that inspired it, but admittedly often gets a relaxed rundown by others and suits guitar and vocal combo well.
Bassist Ted Enderle is mostly in the background but does get one very prominent time in the spotlight and Louis Aissen, a tenor sax player, comes in for a guest appearance on one track, an old, old pop ditty, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall,” that is saved from Hallmark Homily Hell or self-pity (had its “too much is falling in mine” whine taken to the max); instead, it’s treated genially and with a good-natured shrug. The sun’ll come out tomorrow, we might think. Sunny spirits are present throughout, but it doesn’t take much looking between the sunbeams to see inside the workings—there’s some very competent musicianship quietly on display with a “no fuss” attitude that some might miss on a casual hearing.
This is the kind of album that wears well, left on repeat play, and can get its appealing flavor inside you.
Review By: Doug Boynton
There’s a quiet confidence in the approach that Jenny Davis takes to her craft. It’s a traditional approach, whether to the standards you’ve heard countless times, the tunes that are a little off the beaten path, or original material that fits in nicely in this third offering.
Please don’t mistake “nothing fancy” for plain. There’s nothing plain about Ms. Davis’ phrasing or the intelligent way she handles a lyric. I’m particularly smitten with “Morning Glory,” a non-standard from pianist/songwriter Rodgers Grant; and a little vocalese over the top of Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation.”
And add another pop-era tune to the repitoire of standards with Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird,” nicely turned here by Ms. Davis and Chuck Easton on guitar, with some barely-noticeable help from Ted Enderle on bass. Louis Aissen is on sax with a nice riff on “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall,” another track I liked.
Ms. Davis stands out precisely because of her understated commitment to tradition. I imagine her light, intimate touch plays well in small venues.
Plays well on my ‘pod, too. My earlier comparison (smart, sophisticated) with Stacey Kent still stands.
Review by Consumer Guide:
Jenny Davis: Inside You (2009 , self-released): Singer, from Seattle, third album. Wrote one of ten songs, the others scattered standards with Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” and Lennon & McCartney’s “Blackbird” on the far edges. Barely backed by Chuck Easton (guitar, flute) and Ted Enderle (bass), with Louis Aissen’s tenor sax on one cut. The boppish stuff has a touch of Sheila Jordan, not pushed so far, but she doesn’t need a lot of support. Ambivalent about “Blackbird” — almost invariably a disaster — not to mention the obligatory Jobim. B+(**)
Jenny Davis – Inside You (CRD09)
Review By: John M. Peters
Here is an album where, in musical terms, less is more. Backed by just a guitarist [doubling on flute] and a bassist, with a dash of sax on one track, this album focuses on the voice of Jenny Davis. And what a voice it is, smooth as silk but packing a punch above her weight, somewhere between Julie London and Norah Jones. Ms. Davis has selected ten tracks of classic jazz songs to bend to her will, and with an album length of only thirty-eight minutes she makes every song count.
With one self-composed song, “Inside You,” the remaining nine tracks are:- “When Your Lover Has Gone”, “On Green Dolphin Street”, “My Romance”, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, “Morning Glory”, “No More Blues”, “Confirmation”, “Blackbird”, and “Softly (As In A Morning Sunrise)”. Supported by Chuck Easton on guitar and flute and Ted Enderle on bass, and Louis Aissen on tenor sax on a rather tasty version of “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”. Inside You is most definitely one of those albums for low lights or candle lit sessions and romance.
The minimal instrumental backing emphasizes Ms Davis’ voice and the individual musicians’ skills in filling those spaces with their music. Apart from some verbal bebop sparring on the Charlie Parker track “Confirmation”, the album remains within the jazz and Latin genres and is certainly a very fine collection of songs showcased by an exceptional vocalist who, I hope, will be making albums like this for a long time to come.
For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.jennydavisjazz.com
JENNY DAVIS IS INTERVIEWED BY WXOU
Join Phil and Jenny as they explore tunes that Phil did not realize even had lyrics. Jenny discusses her journey as a vocalist at Cornish, and how she was expected to be a vocalist/instrumentalist. Jenny talks about how her voice was expected to be an instrument when training and how she chooses tunes that reflect that ilk.
Click Here for the full review (MP3)
Phil talks about the organic feel of Inside You and the ability it gives the CD for Jenny’s voice to shine through. Jenny speaks about her desire to create a passionate, emotive intimacy.
Phil specifically talks about “Blackbird” as a duet. Phil ask what are some of the challenges of covering such an iconic tune.
Jenny Davis – Inside You
Vocal jazz buffs will flip over the sounds of Inside You, the latest from Jenny Davis. It is a collection of tracks destined to warm the hearts and homes of families nationwide.
With some originals tossed in, Davis pays homage to the greats on this album, and she more than holds her own. A throwback to the golden age of jazz, Davis’ sound will be loved by long time and brand new jazz fans alike.
Her cover of “Blackbird” is one of the best I’ve heard. Using the limitless sound boundaries of her genre, Davis does with the classic things Sarah McLachlan could not, and that is saying something.
The best part of giving great music is it’s rarity as a re-gift. Give what everyone can use this season with a copy of Inside You by Jenny Davis.
Christopher Llewellyn Adams
Paul de Bruijn, Rambles
It Amazes Me is about love, and Jenny Davis sings of when it goes well — as well as when it doesn’t. Her vocals are very clear, making the lyrics easy to hear. The musicians backing her are also very good and help to create the mood of the CD. The music of “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” starts off with the bass on its own, and then there is a progression until the full band is going. A pair of songs about love lost are put together, “What’ll I Do/The Tennessee Waltz,” and you can feel the switch but her delivery helps tie the two together. The blues continue into “Born to be Blue,” and you can almost taste the sorrow in the words. The brighter edges that she hinted at bloom to fullness in “Joy Spring,” the lyrics bubbling out very quickly in places. Her voice drifts gently in “Dindi” as a quiet passion flows through the melody and words. Love remains at the heart of the next song; “It Amazes Me” is a response to the mirror of another’s eyes.
There is a childlike feel created by the delivery and the lyrics of “Dat Dere.” It slides back to build on the mood set by “Dindi” and “It Amazes Me” in “Make Someone Happy.” The arc continues through “Beautiful Love” and the sorrows of the early songs is now complete replaced by joy.Both parts of “Scrapple from the Apple/Honeysuckle Rose” dance quickly as both music and words are delivered crisply. The melancholic “You Don’t Know What Love Is” pulls to the threads tying the songs together to the fore. The heart of this CD lies in “Answer the Call,” one of the best songs on the CD. She lightens the mood with “Just Squeeze Me” and you are released with a smile. It Amazes Me never becomes sappy or overly sentimental; Jenny’s voice and the music keep the songs feeling real. There are some very beautiful love songs on the CD, just as there is some wonderful jazz to be found here.
Doug Boynton, Girl Singers.org
Ms. Davis reminds me of Stacey Kent, with that strong, yet feathery voice. Except that Ms. Davis has not one but a couple of really good sax players to back her up. She’s assembled a nice group to back her – the disc begins with a top-notch rendition of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing);” for my money, one of the highlights of the disc, and a great introduction to Ms. Davis’ fine sense of swing In fact, it’s tough to find lowlights on this one. “Just Squeeze Me” is a fine showcase for both Ms. Davis’ voice, a nice showcase, too – for both Willy Ingersoll and Chuck Easton on sax. Both of them take a solo turn on this track, along with Ted Enderle on Bass, George Radenbaugh on piano, and Tim Sheffel on drums. A fabulous backing group. “What’ll I Do” is coupled with “Tennessee Waltz” on an delightful medley that highlights Ms. Davis, and the great chemistry between all of them. And for what it’s worth – I’m always saying that cover art, and the general look-and-feel of the packaging counts. This one is nicely done. It’ll be worth the search. Recommended!
Constance Tucker, All About Vocals.com
It Amazes Me is an adventurous recording, Jenny’s vocals fuse with inspired solos by Easton, Radegaugh and Willy Ingersoll, creating and complex improvisations that highlight her voice as a technically superior instrument. Davis invites the listener to explore the music much in the way of an instrumentalist. To delve inside the vibrant bebop standards that is usually performed instrumentally such as Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” and Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple”.
From the poignantly tender title track “It Amazes Me” to Duke Ellington’s hard swinging “It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it ain’t got that swing)” Davis takes the listener on an exploration of vocal heights and emotional depth that few vocalists have the heart, or talent, to traverse. Davis is a true jazz vocalist who displays chops with pleasing vocal quality.
Herbert Sherbert, Indie Music Reviews
Well crafted and professionally performed.
Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap
Anyone that gets the high sign from Bud Shank, appreciates Comden & Green, does equal justice to Oscar Brown and Tom Jobim and sings like a jazzy angel is ok with us. Davis is a classic jazz vocalist that knows which end is up and has an special affinity for the classics, chestnuts and oldies but knows how to make them her own without making them feel corrupted. Way more than cocktail jazz, this is the real thing and it’s just going to knock you off your pins.
Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine
This canary soprano is still pleasantly clear and free of affectation.
Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide
On her sophomore release, Seattle jazz singer Jenny Davis brings out something we just don’t hear anymore. In this era, female jazz vocalists tend toward a particular type of repertoire: generally the American songbook, usually one or two pieces from the Brazilian samba library, and maybe, just maybe, a piece from Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Davis presents something else. She has a couple of the songbook pieces in her set (and indeed, even a Jobim piece and a couple of Duke numbers), but there’s a fair amount of other material here: some Bird, some Oscar Brown, some Clifford Brown even, as well as a lone original. The repertoire itself is enough to make the album worth picking up — you’re not going to hear a lot of soul jazz presented in a light vocal format — even Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross stopped with bop. Sweet sound to it, and might be one of the more adventurous ones in recent times.
Bruce E Von Stiers, BVS Reviews
Jenny Davis has a voice that lets you fall in love with it instantly. Her vocals are sweet, yet sexy and sultry at the same time. Dindi is a Jobim tune that I have been seeing on several jazz vocalists’ albums in the last couple of years. This is a light and easy tune that has a wonderful flute solo in it. Jenny is also wonderful here. The song has been done by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Astrud Gilberto. So Jenny is in good company here. Dat Dere is a Bobby Timmons song that has been done by performers like Cannonball Adderly and Rickie Lee Jones. Jenny does a good job here; bring her voice up and down the scale. This is a fun song taking off from a child’s mispronunciation of the words, “that there.” The title track, “It Amazes Me” is extremely well done. A soft and easy song, this is one to gently move your partner around the dance floor with. Scrapple From The Apple / Honeysuckle Rose is a blended medley. Jenny puts her own unique spin on the verses of Honeysuckle Rose. Jenny starts out the album with It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). This is a tune that induces a listener to start moving their feet, hips and bopping their head. It was an excellent choice to open the album with. Jenny gives you some great vocals on the song. And the piano, bass and other instruments provide terrific music. There is one original tune on the album. This is “Answer The Call”, written by Jenny. It is about moving away from sorrow to a higher plane. It is a nice song with some great piano and sax solos. As Jenny started out with a rousing song, she ends with a smooth and easy tune. This is Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me”. Jenny Davis has been compared to performers such as June Cristy. Her voice has been described as sweet, yet sexy. Jenny has had critics raving about her clear, rich vocals and her commanding live performances. You would only have to listen to the first verse of “It Don’t Mean A Thing” to hear for yourself what everyone has been saying about Jenny.
Carmel DeSoto, Jazz Police
Jazz vocalist, Jenny Davis, demonstrates a unique style and ability on her latest CD It Amazes Me. Vocal jazz lovers will quickly hear Davis’s ability to sing in the post-bop tradition, a welcome change from the full docket of traditional jazz singers that often draw upon other styles for inspiration such as; swing, cabaret, blues, and pop instead of the rich bop and post bop eras. Davis’s rich voice has teemed up with Chuck Easton (guitar, flute and alto sax) and George Radebaugh (piano and accordion) to establish symmetry of songs and styles that contain interesting arrangements, while breathing fresh air to the well known standards and be-bop masterpieces. Davis’s inclusion of “Joy Spring” and “Scrapple from the Apple” will surely inspire this and future generations of singers to tap more often into the vast resource of musicality combined with technicality. Davis’s ability to really control her vibrato, using it only when adding it to the note would increase the expression of the phrase, instead of habitually sticking it on any note longer than a quarter note, is a welcome change from the norm. Her ability to have good vocal quality at medium-up and up-tempo’s are also noteworthy. “It Amazes Me” features Davis’s strong voice accompanied by a quartet: with Chuck Easton (guitar, flute and alto sax), George Radebaugh (piano and accordion), Ted Enderle (bass), Tim Sheffel (drums) and a talented young alto saxophonist, Willy Ingersoll. The music and singing is definitely worth listening to and exploring.
Oscar Groomes, O’s Place Jazz Newsletter
These are pleasant tunes, songs we know and enjoy. She opens with Ellington’s classic “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and follows with twelve more classics like “Born To Be Blue” and “Joy Spring” both shadowed by Willy Ingersoll (as). We also liked “Dat Dere” and “Dindi”, a duet with guitarist Chuck Easton who also plays alto sax on a couple of tunes. And Davis not only sings well but also does a fine job scatting. Check out her work on “Scrapple From The Apple/Honeysuckle Rose”. It is a very good set.
Sal Calfa, Le Jazz Affair (Podcast)
Link to Podcast
Lovely and Talented, Excellent Jazz Vocalist, Quality!
Eric W. Saeger, Mouvement Nouveau (Germany)
Like June Christy, jazz chanteuse Davis comes off relaxed and smoldering while reciting these standards, and her band (sax, piano, guitar and upright bass in the main) lends her second album (in follow-up to 2000’s Daydream) the subtle friendliness of a coffee table book.
Michael P. Gladstone, All About Jazz
It Amazes Me consists of a dozen standards and jazz standards with one original that provide a fine opportunity for the singer and her combo to shine. Jenny Davis has chosen a well-balanced mix of the old and new. “What’ll I Do”/”The Tennessee Waltz.” On this medley and the following version of Mel Torme’s “Born to be Blue,” there are some impressive obbligatos from saxophonists Chuck Easton and Willy Ingersoll. On Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” Davis enters via vocalese and swings the uncredited lyrics with a tasty alto solo from Ingersoll and guitar work from Easton. Jobim’s “Dindi” is given the ballad treatment; Easton switches to flute to complement the singer. Davis also goes on to explore the title tune, a Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh 1960s ballad, and the childhood intracacies of the Oscar Brown, Jr. classic, “Dat Dere.” She also surprises us with a version of Victor Young’s “Beautiful Love,” beginning in ballad tempo and then heading into a swinging pace. All of the compositions are well handled, but I was especially drawn to the midtempo tracks, like “Just Squeeze Me,” where Davis finds just the right combination of shading and improvisation.
Jim Santella, All About Jazz
In a relaxed, acoustic setting with jazz standards filling the room, Seattle vocalist Jenny Davis combines her comfortable demeanor with a throwback charm that recalls those who have come before. Through her lyric interpretations and wordless scat singing, we can feel the distant memories of masters like Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Mel Tormé. The album’s title track swaggers gently under the weight of its lyric message. Here and in several other places, Davis comes close to an imitation of Lena Horne. Her performance is pleasant, the band adds a heartfelt groove, and everything fits musically. ”Dat Dere” comes with a bright, uplifting spirit as Davis gives us the child’s voice to signal its message. Her vocal range soars magnificently as she’s joined by flute in an acrobatic interpretation. Uptempo burners such as “Scrapple from the Apple” and “Honeysuckle Rose” feature Davis’ powerful vocalese and convincing lyric delivery. Davis’ original “Answer the Call,” where she issues a dramatic challenge with ample authority, represents another high point. It’s the kind of inspiring message we all need to hear every day. New songs may be the key to her continued success. Davis already has the tools she needs. All that’s left are a few new leaves to turn over when the time is right.
Allen Williams, Jazzreview
When singing from the great American song book, giving new life and energy to the melodies heard so much can also be a study in the balance of Yin and Yang. Sing it straight with no ornaments and it is boring, ornament the melody too much and it starts to sound like an exercise or a completely different melody. Vocalist Jenny Davis has found that magical blending of the two aspects, creating a harmony of the two for our listening pleasure with It Amazes Me. Davis’ new CD, It Amazes Me is a collection of 12 standards and one original with a couple of pairings of songs that share the same harmonic structure, “What I’ll Do/The Tennessee Waltz” and “Scrapple From the Apple/Honeysuckle Rose.” Davis’ warm alto voice always seems to find the balance between conveying the unadorned melody and adding ornaments to the melody that is both entraining and informative of the songs original meaning. “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” exemplifies Davis’s ability to make a song mean a thing by finding the pulse of the song and swinging to it. Ted Enderle’s big bass sound provides the driving force for nice swinging solos by alto saxist Chuck Easton and pianist George Radebaugh. Actually, most of the songs on the CD are swinging with the exception of “Dindi,” which is played as an easy bossa. Thanks to Davis’ ability to play with the melody and the accompanying skills of the band, the listener will not fade to the Yin side and grow bored. There is a nice flow of tempos and instrumentation that keeps the Yin and Yang in balance. Davis’s original, “Answer the Call,” exhibits a talent for lyric writing as well as singing. “Don’t stay too long in sorrow. Just feel it, know it, live it. Then move on.” Perhaps on the next CD outing the listeners will get to hear more of Davis’ lyrics. Linger longer in swinging moments with Jenny Davis and let the balance in the music amaze you, It Amazes Me.
Nicholas Sheffo, Fulvue Drive-In
Jenny Davis is yet another talented singer who loves classic Jazz vocal standards and her new album It Amazes Me (2005) seems properly a decent album with really good singing that you will want to get if you like the material or a vocalist who does not mistake rolling for singing. The PCM 2.0 16bit/44.1kHz Stereo is a very good recording, with detail, clarity and depth a recent recording should have. Kelly Campbell engineered the album, while Davis herself produced. This was so good that I was curious as to how an SACD version (2.0 & 5.1) might sound. Maybe she’ll get the chance for such a release later.
J Sin, Smother Magazine
Jenny Davis begins her album with some doo-wop and skat jazz vocals. And she just coasts along with stellar vocal jazz hits the whole rest of the way. Blessed with a dynamic and well-ranged vocal, Davis grabs ahold of the listener with magnificent arrangements and talented interpretations of jazz standards. Thick upright bass adds some groove while the percussion gives you a sense that if you’re not dancing, you’re just missing out. If you happen to catch her live you’re going to be one lucky soul if her talented crew and voice are even half as good live as they are on this jazz masterpiece.
John Gilbert, Ejazz
Bending the notes interspersed with some scatting is the hallmark of “It Don’t Mean A Thing” This is a fine interpretation of a classic with new nuances. “Scrapple From The Apple”…Now to get to the meat of the tunes. Davis starts the tune scatting to Bird’s changes and jumps into the original “Honeysuckle Rose” like she means it. Chuck Easton on guitar puts his exclamation mark on it and the bass solo of Ted Enderle adds his musical missive in a grand manner.Tim Sheffel knows how the brushes can be utilized in a most discretionary manner and yet make a statement that pleases the ear on “Just Squeeze Me” … Jenny Davis takes the notes around corners into crevices not yet explored as she wends her way through a tune that deserves the new life she has given it. This is a fine example of how jazz standards can be reborn in a way that would please the composers to the fullest.