JAZZ ALBUM REVIEW : Duo Swings in a Wide Range of Tempos
Stephanie Haynes-Dave Mackay***
“Two on a Swing”
Why Not Records Stephanie Haynes is a major talent who deserves wider recognition. “Two on a Swing” showcases why. The wide range of material on the album, from Cole Porter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Horace Silver, Johnny Mandel and Ivan Lins, gives Haynes a chance to display her range and competence no matter the tempo or mood.
Fans who have seen her locally will realize that she’s in especially good voice here, working in warm, strong tones that never lose their character despite the pitch.
She doesn’t need to rely on stylistic gimmicks but doesn’t avoid playful slides, wide vibratos or suggestive twists in her voice either. In short, she’s an intelligent, tasteful singer with a fine vocal instrument. The duo setup gives pianist Dave Mackay a role as equal, and he delivers with a host of tempos, dynamic treatments and out-of-the tradition style references, including boogie, bop and stride. But his major contribution is melodic as he improvises with all the lyrical simplicity of a good storyteller.
Porter’s lament “Why Can’t You Behave” is given a bluesy, gospel-tinged treatment, while “This Heart of Mine” is a swinger that emphasizes Haynes’ rhythmic smarts. Her narrative skills surface on “Where Do You Start?” as she works her way through Marilyn and Alan Bergman’s touching lyric with heartfelt sincerity. As a further display of her utility, she sings Brazilian Lins’ sultry “Doce Presenca” in Portuguese.
The duo’s best effort comes on “Get Out of Town,” in which her intense, somewhat foreboding delivery is supported by Mackay’s expanse of shifting chords. “Two on a Swing” is one of the best vocal collections in recent memory and proves that the jazz singer’s craft, though often maligned of late, lives on.
(Available from Why Not Records, P.O. Box 1323, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 92693. (714) 496-0537.)