Editors' pick

Sophie Milman

Jazz
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Editorial Review

SOPHIE MILMAN
Album review: "In the Moonlight"

Jazz chanteuse Sophie Milman was born in Russia, resides in Toronto and, apparently, thrives in Manhattan. That's where the 28-year-old vocalist recorded "In the Moonlight," her fourth and most ambitious album, supported by top-tier musicians and arrangers.

In fact, this collection of mostly pop and jazz standards can be recommended for its musical settings alone. There's lushly orchestrated Ellingtonia (Alan Broadbent's string-swept "Prelude to a Kiss"); small-combo delights (Gerald Clayton's take on "Oh Look at Me Now"); and, in sharp contrast to the album's sultry allure, even some flashes of exuberance (Julian Lage's rendering of "Let Me Love You"). Another treat is "Watch What Happens," which provides a particularly sensuous showcase for fluegelhornist Randy Brecker, pianist Kevin Hays and acoustic guitarist Romero Lubambo. If it sounds like something crafted with Diana Krall in mind, well, it's not the only track that invites such a comparison.

Even so, Milman doesn't linger in anyone's shadow for long. She reveals her interpretive finesse without a hitch, at ease with the album's mix of vintage and contemporary tunes, including the French interlude "Ces Petits Riens." Milman isn't as well known as some of her collaborators on this smartly produced album, at least outside of Canada. But if "In the Moonlight" gets the attention it deserves, that could change overnight.

--Mike Joyce, Nov. 18, 2011