Vocalist Whitney James takes her rightful place among today’s great jazz singers with her stunning debut album, The Nature of Love. James blends a singer’s sensitivity to lyrics with an instrumentalist’s command of phrasing, melody, and timbre. The album’s ambitious program of material includes classics from the Great American Songbook such as Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin’s “Long Ago and Far Away” and Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean,” as well as challenging jazz tunes such as Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not” and Jimmy Rowles’s “The Peacocks.”
James doesn’t just sing a tune,she creatively engages it. Every time she approaches a melody and a lyric, she finds a new way to phrase them, shape them, highlight a word or a few notes that shade the meaning and make the music richer. Her sense of time and pacing make her a consummate musician’s singer—she knows how to work with a band, instead of asking it to merely back her. Her supple alto voice wraps itself around a song like a sheer silk scarf. She sings with a bright clarity of tone, yet she colors her sound with earthy inflections, subtle squeezed notes, dark growls, and notes of soaring purity.
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