Jolie Goodnight is exactly the kind of voice us vocal jazz lovers hope to hear from the new generation. Her debut Say Goodnight Gracey has left me absolutely enchanted, and truth be told, so have the arrangements and track selection.
This is an overall masterpiece. Goodnight has all the necessary elements to make her a favorite of anybody’s heart: vocal control within a moderate range but with the ability to impress (and, oh, it does), an intuitive understanding of the lyrics, the innocence and yet wise-beyond-her-years approach and phrasing — and all that jazz. This is a voice to adore.
Daughter of producer Joe Gracey and singer-songwriter Kimmie Rhodes, Goodnight probably could not escape the sweet legacy of music, and thankfully for us, the stars lined up just right with producer Gabriel Rhodes (everything stays in the family) and an unusual band was assembled for this album: Mike Thompson (the Eagles) on piano and trombone, Dony Wynn (Robert Plant) on drums, Glen Kukunaga (Joe Ely) on bass, Brian Standefer (Alejandro Escovedo) on cello and Jon Mills (Times Ten) on clarinet and saxophone. The touch of Kevin Flatt on trumpet and Tommy Detemore on steel guitar are as sweet as honey. The final result is astonishing, to say the least. There is magic happening here, the stuff of which timeless recordings are made.
Perhaps it is the distance between jazz and these musicians that made Say Goodnight Gracey (Sunbird) such a surprising experience. Elements of blues and the old-soul school are also present — and that voice is simply perfect for it all.
Track picks: “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (for its beautiful dimmed light and delicacy), “Pennies from Heaven” (an absolutely fantastic take on this classic that finds a new dimension and a new universe in which to delightfully exist for eternity), “After You Get What You Want” (the kind of recording that serves as a business card for everybody involved; perfect!), and and “Basin Street Blues” (where that jazz/blues element is present and alive in every note, and her voice is not only seductive but also dirty, in the most endearing sense of the musical meaning of that word). Others such as “These Foolish Things” and “Summertime” will stand alone and proud in the most intimate whereabouts of your beating heart: There’s a flawless connection between her and the music. Meanwhile, “Sugar in My Bowl” could explain what Jolie Goodnight’s voice and singing is all about, even as she leaves just enough air for you to breathe after the last second of magic has entered your soul.
Goodnight is a surprising vocalist. Pay attention, and make sure you take her all in. In a world like ours today, true musical talent is often overlooked, and it would be a terrible shame if this woman and her music did not reach the very depths of your most inner feelings — and sat there to stay for the rest of your life.
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