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Lush Life

Review by Dave Glackin
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Jacintha Lush Life

CD Stock Number: Groove Note Records GRV1011-1


  Ying Tan has produced an instant classic with his third album by Jacintha. Lush Life is one of the most outstanding female vocal jazz albums I've heard in many years. Seriously. Jacintha's vocals are silky, smooth, sensuous and seductive. Her intonation and phrasing, and her breath control and vocal modulation, are quite phenomenal. The recording quality that Joe Harley has achieved lets anyone who didn't understand the definition of palpable presence before suddenly see the light. This recording is definitely lush. The instrumental timbres are captured with great clarity, and nothing is buried in the mix. And there's a lot of outstanding instrumental work on this album. The flugelhorn is particularly mesmerizing. Bill Cunliffe's jazz piano work is a joy. The orchestra, present on most of the cuts, is orchestrated with taste and restraint. It would have been easy to get carried away, but Bill Cunliffe did not.

Although this album was multi-mic'ed due to the sheer number of instruments, I did not find that objectionable in the least. Great care was obviously taken in the microphone setup, the mixing, and the mastering (done by Bernie Grundman). The result is that the vocals and instrumentals sound like a coherent whole within a believable soundstage.

This is an album of jazz standards such as "Black Coffee", "Summertime", "Lush Life", and "September Song", coupled with one Latin piece. The piano, bass, drums and flugelhorn interact to make for a very atmospheric, introspective ambience on some of these cuts; witness Summer Song and Smile. If you very badly need to relax, toss this album on the old turntable. It should do the job. If this album does not transport you to a more mellow state of mind, you're in bad shape indeed.

I really appreciate Ying Tan's practice of packaging 45rpm LPs with his 33.3rpm LPs. And... wow. I thought I had heard Jacintha's voice on the standard speed LP. And... double wow. It's like I'd left the front door unlocked and she had somehow slipped into my listening room (in a singing mood, yet). Harlem Nocturne must be heard to be believed. That old "palpable presence" phrase does not do this justice. How about "phenomenally plausible palpable presence, plus." In addition, there is more of that mellow, tasteful flugelhorn to top it all off. On the flip side of the 45 is a repeat of the first two cuts on the standard LP. My gosh. If you own this 45, keep it in a safe place, and if you need something to amaze your blasé´ audiophile chums, pull it out and play it. They will be suitably impressed.

My hat's off to Ying Tan, Joe Harley, Bill Cunliffe, Bernie Grundman, and everyone else who made this recording a reality. It's a knockout, and it deserves my highest recommendation. Please support Ying Tan and colleagues and buy it. And if you don't like it, mail it to me. This copy may be a little worn before too long.



Enjoyment: 100

Sound Quality: 100











































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