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ALBUM REVIEWS : She Makes It Look Easy

August 13, 1995|Don Heckman

WESLIA WHITFIELD

"Nice Work . . ."

Landmark Records

* * *

Weslia Whitfield is that most elusive of artists--the performer who seems to be doing nothing special yet who nonetheless manages to create incredibly effective music.

Whitfield and her husband and longtime accompanist, Mike Greensill, work their way through a not-unfamiliar program of standards in fairly familiar fashion. Greensill (with guitarist Gene Bertoncini and bassist Michael Moore) lays down a smooth and easy rhythmic setting, rich with jazz-based harmonies, and Whitfield sings the songs without variation--occasionally tossing in an unfamiliar verse for good measure.

And that's it? Not quite. Whitfield, like Lee Wiley and Irene Kral--two obvious predecessors--also brings great storytelling ability, as well as a striking subtlety of musical line, to everything she sings. Her voice is as pure yet as malleable as a jazz horn, and she utilizes it with meticulous attention to detail.

The result is superb jazz singing--no improvisational scatting, no Sarah Vaughan-like swoops across the harmony--that makes her readings of such songs as "How Deep Is the Ocean," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "This Can't Be Love" into musical and emotional revelations.

\o7 Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).

\f7

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