Libby York: Sunday in New York (2003)
Libby York is a cabaret-type vocalist with jazz sensibilities on her second album, Sunday in New York. Released in an attractive digipak format with an A List jazz combo and a well-paced ten selections, this release should gain her some nationwide attention. Originally from Chicago, the leader relocated to New York for the 1980s and early 90s, then moved back to Chicago where she recorded her first album for Southport in 1998.
My musical introduction to Libby York was the only negative aspect of this album. Lionel Hampton's jazz standard "Midnight Sun" is performed by a husky-voiced York, with perhaps Chris Connor in mind, but I feel that she was uncomfortable with the pacing of the song. In the lyrics "stardust on my sleeve" and "icy, white and crystalline," the words "stardust" and "icy" are repeated as embellishments. After a tenor sax solo by Frank Wess, she repeats the same routine. I'm not sure if she was unhappy with the tacit moment between the words or that she wanted to show some improvisational skills, but the end result was that it spoiled the track.
However, the remainder of the album is fine with mid-tempo numbers like the title tune, "Like Someone in Love" and the Michael Franks tune "Down in Brazil." "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" which features Wess cranking out another beauty of a solo, is also altered by York, but this time it seems to have worked. A new set of lyrics are added and she includes Wess in the banter with (after his solo): "Frank, if love makes me treat you the way that I do...." The ballads, "All My Tomorrows" and "That's All," are well delivered.
Libby York has surrounded herself with some of the best New York musicians. In addition to the famed Mr. Wess, Renee Rosnes is one of the brightest pianist-composer and arrangers in town, performing here alongside her husband Billy Drummond, drums and Todd Coolman, bass. My suspicion is that York is an excellent live performer and is quite comfortable working in the cabaret circuit. The inclusion of the album's surprise entry, "I Go For That," an early Frank Loesser song from the late 1930s, which sounds oddly contemporary, was a fine choice—but it's hard to believe that a jazz vocalist would have dug that one up.
Track Listing: Midnight Sun, Sunday in New York, Waltz for Debby, Gee Baby,Ain't I Good To You, Down in Brazil, I Go For That, All My Tomorrows, In the Wee Small Hours, Like Someone in Love, That's All.
Personnel: Libby York,vocals; Frank Wess, tenor sax; Renee Rosnes,piano; Todd Coolman,bass; Billy Drummond,drums.