Cabaret chanteuse Carolynn Lee Jones has the sensual voicing of Billie Holiday and the melodic sensibilities of Shirley Bassey. Her sophomore release The Performer from Cat’nround Sound music label is canvassed in torchlight palettes shrouding the porcelain sheen of her vocal strokes. Produced by Jones, the recording is bountiful in jazz standards and buffered by classic pop tunes ranging from rarities to fan favorites.
Accompanied by saxophonist Shelley Carroll on Brooks Bowman’s nostalgic piece “East of the Sun,” the track is spruced up in romantic trimmings with the buttery texture of Jones’s voicing cushioning the listener’s ears as pianist Brad Williams and bassist Jonathan Fisher traipse elegantly across the melody. The reverberating embers stoking “Small Day Tomorrow” bring out the sensual side of Jones’s register moving into a steamy bossa nova rustle through the title track as Jorge Ginorio’s hip-swaying percussive beats shake gently and the sizzling flare ups of the trombones streak the tune in vibrant jazz-tinged embellishments.
Jones’s treatment of the classic pop tune “Creepin'” coats the track in breathy vocals cradled by the wistful sweeps of Todd Parsnow’s guitar supported by Andrew Griffith’s steady drumbeats as she muses, “Why must it be that you always creep into my dreams / My dreams / When I’m asleep at night / Baby / I feel those moments of ecstasy…Love is so amazing / Guess you will be staying…so let it be, you always creep into my dreams.”
The mollifying tempo of “Nearness of You” produces a pensive mood entwined in the languid strokes of Jones vocals, then coasts into Jean-Marc Charron’s country-textured tune “If You were Shakespeare” sprinkled in Pierce’s shimmering synths and showered in the slow rocking riffs of Parsnow’s guitar. The melody is silhouette by Williams’s downy piano keys creating a dreamy pacifying atmospheric that has commercial potential.
The rhythmic pumping in “I Wished on the Moon” has a Latin-bent coiled in vines of wavy flutters from the flute and soft vibrating keys. The album leaps into the sultry swagger of Jones’s vocals in “Let’s Get Lost” harnessing a cabaret panache in the number as the soft punctuations made by Williams’s keys in the classic pop tune “Piano in the Dark” pillow her vocals tenderly. The calypso tempo of “Tell Me All About It” fosters a tango-esque stride in Jones’s vocals, which relaxes into a reclining gait along “Lazy Afternoon” as the melody is speckled in Mario Cruz’s grazing saxophone and Tony Baker’s soft billowing trombone. The album closes with the dreamy soundscapes of “The Island” sheath in a dusting of soft percussive strokes and glittery synths.
Jones channels the voicing of a dreamer in her music. Raised in Nebraska, her influences steep in classical repertoires can be detected in the treatment of the tracks. The Performer, which is the follow up to her debut release Bon Appetit!, flexes her vocal chops further into the domains of jazz standards and classic pop tunes honing her natural born talent as an elegant chanteuse.
Carolyn Lee Jones – vocals, Brad Williams – piano and keyboards, Jonathan Fisher – bass, Andrew Griffith – drums, Todd Parsnow – guitars, Jorge Ginorio – percussion, Shelley Carroll – alto flute, flute, and tenor sax, Mario Cruz – flute and tenor sax, Joyce Spencer – alto sax, Paul Elder – bass clarinet, David Pierce – trombone and string synth, Tony Baker – trombone
Small Day Tomorrow, East of the Sun, The Performer, Creepin’, Nearness of You, If You were Shakespeare, I Wished on the Moon, Let’s Get Lost, Piano in the Dark, Old Devil Moon, Never Let Me Go, Tell Me All about It, Lazy Afternoon, The Island