Juno-nominated artist Barbra Lica is a fast-rising star in the Canadian music scene and has been receiving accolades for a unique vocal ability that stresses subtlety and grace. Based in Toronto, Canada, Barbra’s live show captivates audiences all over North America with her genuine warmth and confident stage presence. A deep passion for the music of classic vocalists like Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald led Barbra to pursue a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto. Shortly after graduating, Barbra was runner-up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition with judges Al Jarreau and Gretchen Parlato…
Listeners with even a passing familiarity with Norah Jones' fine official debut, Come Away With Me, will be captivated by First Sessions; for an artist making her earliest attempts at studio recording, Jones is remarkably assured and mature on these six cuts, revealing a unique sound and sensibility fully formed long before she signed to Blue Note. The opening "Don't Know Why" is the litmus test: the version here is nearly identical to the rendition on Come Away With Me, its impressive marriage of cocktail jazz and coffeehouse folk already solidified. Likewise, Jones' alluring readings of "Come Away With Me," "Turn Me On," and "Lonestar" anticipate the more robust versions captured on the LP.
Nat Hentoff prefaced his 1956 down beat review of Verve's first Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong collaboration with a prediction: "Ella and Louis is one of the very, very few albums to have been issued in this era of the LP flood that is sure to endure for decades." Today, those sublime performances, along with two subsequent Norman Granz-produced Fitzgerald-Armstrong albums, are regarded as milestones of American music. A dozen gems from these works are presented here.
In conjunction with the release of Ken Burns' ten-part, 19-hour epic PBS documentary Jazz, Columbia issued 22 single-disc compilations devoted to jazz's most significant artists, as well as a five-disc historical summary. Since the individual compilations attempt to present balanced overviews of each artist's career, tracks from multiple labels have thankfully been licensed where appropriate. That's especially nice in the case of Billie Holiday, who recorded excellent and essential work for Columbia, Commodore, Decca, and Verve. Since her signature numbers were also spread out over those labels, and since Ken Burns Jazz includes pretty much all of her best-known songs, this makes an excellent introduction and an even better single-disc retrospective.