Stephanie Nakasian: Invitation to an Escapade
Of Armenian descent, Stephanie Nakasian first gained prominence in the mid-1980's when she hooked up with vocalese master Jon Hendricks. Since then, she has appeared in a number of venues including TV and clubs. Nakasian sings without fancies or frills. Straight from the heart singing with rapt attention to the lyrics make her one of the top story tellers on the contemporary scene. On this album, Nakasian often comes across as a torch singer in a nightclub scene in one of those film noire movies from the 1940's.
For her fourth album, she has selected an agenda of tunes which include familiar classic standards, material that's not so familiar, and new works. On some cuts, she includes a short narrative setting the scene for the song she is about to sing as on "No Moon at All". This 1949 ditty made popular by Nat King Cole is a fine example of the subdued swing found on this CD. It also allows Bob Hallahan to show off on piano as he quotes from a couple of popular standards during a longish solo. Husband, arranger and vibes player Hod O'Brien joins in on vocals for Argentina composer Pepe Gonzales' "Just for You". It's also an occasion for some Nakasian scatting and a strong guitar solo by Steve Brown. Showing a little more than normal versatility, the usually hauntingly played "Invitation" is done medium tempo to a Caribbean beat. The 1941 hit for the Ink Spots, "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat" is given a wide-eyed ingenue treatment.
This CD is by no means a ground breaking, earth shattering event. But it is an hour's plus of pleasant, relaxing vocalizing by a consummate professional, one of the top members of her trade and backed by a solid group of sidemen. Recommended.
Track Listing: Invitation%; No Moon at All; The Nearness of You; You Call It Madness (but I Call It Love)#; Someone Nice; Memories of Tomorrow%; It's a Blue World #; Love Is a Necessary Evil #; This Heart of Mine; What'll I Do?; Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat; The Lamp Is Low*; Escapade*; He Never Mentioned Love #; Just For You#*&
Personnel: Stephanie Nakasian - Vocals; Bob Hallahan - Piano; Paul Langosch - Bass; Joe LaBarbera - Drums; Steve Brown - Guitar#/Congas%; Hod O'Brien - Synthesized Vibes*/Vocals&