(Sonic Mirage Media, CD)
What a pleasant surprise! Vocalist Kate Paradise's debut, You Stepped Out of a Dream, is the real thing - a CD full of memorable, old-school jazz standards straight out of the Great American Songbook. Accompanying Paradise are Joe Davidian on piano, John Rivers on bass, Geza Carr on drums, Nicholas Cassarino on guitar and John McKenna on tenor sax, each of whom delivers solid performances.
Paradise possesses a soft, expressive voice that works well on the eight tunes here, especially "Alone Together," "Round Midnight, "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and the bluesy "Teach Me Tonight." Her excellent enunciation and the fine work from her five backup musicians make for a truly enjoyable listen. Paradise's scat singing could use some work - it's a bit tenuous and uninspired - but I'm betting it'll improve with time.
Currently based in Burlington, Paradise has strong New England roots. Her interest in jazz began while attending high school in New Hampshire; she later earned degrees in Studio Music and Jazz Performance from the University of Miami in Florida. In addition to performing, the 25-year-old singer teaches jazz and voice at St. Michael's College, Johnson State College and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.
It's great to see young artists take an interest in "America's classical music." Yesterday's artists, such as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, each added elements that helped the music evolve. Today's players will, I hope, have similar opportunities. It's gratifying that Paradise chose to pay homage to those who have come before. I appreciate the poetry in her choices of tunes.
Paradise appears regularly at venues throughout the Green Mountains; I strongly recommend catching a performance.