First off, I have to admit that I have a thing for female jazz vocalists, maybe it's the sultry sweetness of their voices, but I will truly sit and listen to any female jazz vocalist. For me, there's nothing better than the beautiful airy voice of Blossom Dearie, accompanied with a choice scotch on a cold December night, to keep the soul warm. There's something about her ability to connect with your subconcious and slowly settle your thoughts from a roar to a faint hum. There are very few singers who can touch Miss Dearie when it comes to this, in my opinion. Not to neglect Piaf, Fitzgerald, or Holiday, but Miss Dearie has won my heart. Her songs seem to lift my spirit.
I recently came across a couple women who carry Dearie's legendary vocal approach. Thanks to my good friend and former NAC Ochestra oboeist Lawrence Charge, I have come to know the music of Athens Georgia's Madeleine Peyroux. Peyroux's French-American background has allowed her to penetrate the highly critical French jazz scene and earned her a BBC Jazz Award for Best International Jazz Artist. There is a time and a place for Peyroux and the above mentioned scenario would suit quite well.
Halifax's own Jill Barber, better known to me as Matthew Barber's sister, is a real gem. From the first track on her new album Chances, I was sold. She may have replaced Feist in the category of Most Attractive Voice in the annual Mookie Awards. Her music is mostly jazz-influenced, but it doesn't prevent her from folk-like tendencies creeping through. She's going to keep my ears warm this winter.