Judy also shines on blues pieces…
Sunnyside SSC 1688
Judy Niemack (v); Peter Bernstein (elg); Sullivan Fortner (p); Doug Weiss (b); Joe Farnsworth (d)
Recorded New Jersey, 20 & 21 June 2021
This album was delayed for more than a year due to Covid. Ms Niemack was planning to join Bernstein and Fortner on stage at the Village Vanguard the night lockdown occurred in New York City. Finally, in late 2021 they all got together in the Van Gelder studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to record her album which is mainly originals.
The charts written by Ms Niemack with assistance by Peter Bernstein and others are not particularly memorable but most serve the purpose for improvisation by voice and instrumentals.
The band is certainly well drilled and there are tidy solos by Bernstein, Fortner and bassist Weiss on offer. Eric Alexander makes a guest appearance on ‘Let Life Lead You,’ his spiralling alto intense, adding punch to the selection.
Ms Niemack has an intimate, somewhat foggy voice which she uses to good effect on ‘For All We Know.’ She is particularly good on slow ballads so perhaps should have included more here. The originals are adequate but not particularly inspired.
She scats inventively on some selections and works well integrating with the quartet. Judy also shines on blues pieces and is effective in her vocal on ‘Blues That Soothe My Soul.’ Bernstein’s guitar is also very well featured here and he too seems to have an affinity with the blues.
Judy’s best vocal is on Mel Torme’s ‘Born To Be Blue,’ where she really comes into her own as an interpreter of blues based material.
The music was all recorded at the legendary Van Gelder studio in New Jersey where so many classic Blue Note and Impulse discs were made, way back when. Sound engineer Maureen Sickler gets a good sound balance on each selection.
Reviewed by Derek Ansell