BWW Reviews: Sultry Jazz Singer Lyn Stanley Does Release Party of POTIONS in Style

Don Grigware on Broadway World Reviews attended Lyn Stanley’s November 8th show Upstairs at Vitello’s in Studio City. Click here to view his full article on >>

On Saturday November 8 at Upstairs at Vitello’s in Studio City, international jazz vocalist Lyn Stanley presented a CD release party to celebrate her new recording Potions (from the 50s). Onstage with her were sensational musicians tenor-saxophonist Terry Harrington, pianist Mike Lang, bassist Mike Valerio and drummer Joe La Barbera. The 80-minute set was an evening to remember, a jazz lover’s dream come true.

When I first heard Lyn Stanley onstage in November of 2011 at then Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s, I was mesmerized by her singular beauty and compassionate warmth as well as her smooth and sultry vocal style. Her delivery with expert phrasing is indeed something to shout about, and shortly after that engagement Stanley released her first solo CD Lost in Romance which went on to become an internationally acclaimed, award-winning best seller. She is at this very moment a semi-finalist in the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Competition, so the release of Potions could not come at a better time in her life. She is on top, living her dream: first she conquered the world of ballroom dancing; now she is on her way to becoming a supreme singer of jazz standards.

Whereas Lost in Romance included great tunes from the 30s, 40s and “Fever” from the 50s, Potions is a salute to all 50s music. Stanley told several delightful anecdotes about the period during her show and emphasized how the 50s, as part of musical history, represents a huge change in both music and lyrical style. Lyrics of the 30s and 40s were elegant, refined, non-repetitive, as they emanated from educated composers such as Cole Porter, who paid more attention to the use of sophisticated English. With the advent of TV in the 50s an increasing number of musicians were writing and getting exposure… and that created a freer, more relaxed style of expression which had a big effect on the repetitive lyrics of songs. One can readily see this in the boldness of 50s pop “Hey There” and “Cry Me a River” as opposed to Erroll Garner’s softer “Misty” (1954) which is a throwback to the elegant lyrics of earlier times.

There were also very funny stories about Julie London’s bold introduction of the lyricist of “Cry Me a River”, Arthur Hamilton to composer Johnny Mercer: “This is the son of a bitch who put ‘plebeian’ in the song”… and how she took all her clothes off in the studio while recording. Certainly no tame lady, but marvelous sultry singer, Miss Julie London! Stanley, a great admirer of London, really showed her genuine sense of humor and a special laid.back talent for storytelling throughout her set. Audiences agree, as they ate up every second with laughter and applause.

From the CD highlights included: apart from the aforementioned “Hey There”, “Cry Me a River” and “Misty”: “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Love Potion #9” – a real winner for Stanley’s silky delivery as well as the dreamy “In the Still of the Night”, a lovely “Teach Me Tonight”, “After the Lights Go Down Low” and… the fast, jivin’ Fats Domino hit “I’m Walkin'”, which gave Stanley ample opportunity to move and groove her dancer’s body.

Stanley also included what will perhaps be her signature tune “Fever” and “That Old Black Magic” from her first album, and introduced a thrilling rendition of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from 1933 by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, which she is planning to explore more in a possible third CD. Yay!

Due to the popularity Stanley has been gaining steadily over the last couple of years with Lost in Romance, Potions is bound to be a surefire winner as well. If you loved Ella, Sarah and other jazz notables, you will love Lyn Stanley whose gracious ladylike manner and uber satin range will make you love jazz all over again.