A treasure trove of melodic invention, distilled emotion, and vivacious wit, the American Songbook can also serve as a gilded cage, confining jazz vocalists to oft-interpreted material written during the first half of the 20th century. Sacramento jazz vocalist Beth Duncan has never been one to do things by the book, and her new album I’m All Yours exemplifies the ample creative rewards of grappling with the present moment. A collection of songs written by Oakland-based composer and lyricist Martine Tabilio, I’m All Yours is Duncan’s third release, and it’s a persuasively swinging project brimming with smart new songs that deliver many of the pleasures found in American Songbook standards. It’s also a confident and deeply satisfying statement by an artist who has come into her own at middle age.
As on her first two albums, Duncan is joined by a stellar cast of players, including pianist Joe Gilman, vibraphone legend Bobby Hutcherson’s go-to accompanist in his last years, and Australian-born multi-wind expert Jacam Manricks, who spent more than a decade in New York City recording with leading improvisers such as Tyshawn Sorey, Matt Wilson, Adam Rogers, and Gary Versace. Providing a seismic jolt to the Sacramento scene in recent years, Manricks crafted the album’s consistently arresting arrangements, while also contributing elegantly thematic solos on flute and tenor and soprano saxophone