Jazz Critic, Scott Yanow, Reviews Interludes

The highly appealing singer Lyn Stanley has had a great deal of success with her first two recordings, Lost In Romance and Potions {from the 50s}. They are both first-class projects with top songs from the Great American Songbook, major musicians, colorful arrangements and, best of all, warm singing from Ms. Stanley.

Lyn Stanley’s recent Interludes is her most adventurous and exciting recording yet. Her expressive and versatile vocals pay justice to the lyrics that she interprets, her voice is at various times quietly emotional, seductive, saucy and inviting, and she sounds comfortable no matter what the setting. While a four-piece rhythm section consisting of pianist Bill Cunliffe, guitarist John Chiodini, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Ray Brinker is on most of the selections, the use of guests and the inventive arrangements of Cunliffe, Chiodini, Tamil Hendelman, Steve Rawlins and Ms. Stanley herself keep the music full of subtle surprises and variety.

It was a gutsy move starting the opening selection “How Long Has This Been Going On” a capella, but the singer pulls it off. The Rawlins arrangement has pauses between the key lyrics that are quite effective, trombonist Bob McChesney blends in perfectly with Stanley, and she sounds as if she is living the words she is singing.

“Just One Of Those Things” has a particularly creative Bill Cunliffe arrangement. After Brad Dutz’s percussion begins the piece, the singer is heard during one chorus having brief duets with bassist Berghofer, guitarist Chiodini and Cunliffe before the full group joins in. There is some brilliant trombone playing by McChesney, the ensembles alternate with short solos, and Lyn Stanley handles the many tempo changes gracefully.

The other songs also have their shares of highlights. “Black Velvet” begins with some finger snapping a la Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” Stanley keeps the sensuous mood going throughout her vocal. On “More Than You Know,” she takes the verse slow and out-of-tempo, does some effective wordless vocalizing in the ensembles, and climaxes the performance with a surprise ending. “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” is particularly atmospheric. Cellist Cecilia Tsan (who trained with the same teacher as Yo-Yo Ma) is a major asset as Lyn conveys the hopelessness and world weariness of the lyrics.

The lowdown and rockish “Whole Lotta Love” and the always eerie “Last Tango In Paris” find Lyn Stanley putting timeless feeling into more contemporary songs. These are among four numbers that have pianist Mike Garson and drummer Paul Kreibich joining the singer, Chiodini and Berghofer. The great harmonica player Hendrick Meurkens is a major part of a samba version of “Don’t Explain,” fitting in very well with the singer. On “Nice ‘n’ Easy,” Stanley begins the performance accompanied quietly by drummer Kreibich before she swings joyfully. Garson contributes some piano worthy of Erroll Garner. “The Island,” which has Chiodni’s guitar in a prominent role, finds Stanley putting a great deal of feeling into the words. She is in a happy and grateful mood on “It’s Crazy” (Sammy Cahn’s last song) before giving Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” (which co-stars Meurkens) a sweet and lush interpretation.

Lyn Stanley concludes Interlude by singing the sly and saucy lyrics of “I Was A Little Too Lonely (and You Were A Little Too Late)” and “I’m A Fool To Want You.” The latter is a heartfelt duet with guitarist Chiodini that is full of longing and desire.

Interludes, Lyn Stanley’s finest recording so far, is highly recommended to lovers of warm vocals and classic songs.

Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, Swing, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76″