By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, June 1, 2012
In the towering haystack of recent recordings by female jazz vocalists, all chasing Diana Krall’s commercial success, it’s often hard to find the golden needles amid the straw. But Marianne Solivan’s solo debut, “Prisoner of Love,” is a 24-karat sliver of the real thing. Unlike most of her competitors, she doesn’t over-sing but hits every note with a relaxed, personal delivery. Unlike others, she doesn’t limit herself to the usual show tunes but also tackles seldom-heard numbers by such jazz composers as Gigi Gryce, her hero Betty Carter and her former employer Darryl Harper.
Unlike so many, she never sounds like a singer in front of a band; she always sounds like a singer within a band. When she sings “All or Nothing at All” as a duo with bassist Christian McBride, there’s a genuine give-and-take, because she has the harmonic grasp and precise intonation to trade improvised phrases. The same interaction can be heard on “May I Come In,” with Sonny Rollins’s guitarist Peter Bernstein, or Artie Shaw’s “Moon Ray” with McBride, Bernstein and trumpeter and producer Jeremy Pelt.
The intimate minimalism of the album’s duos, trios and quartets allows Solivan to make the lyrics sound like hushed revelations.