I was ploughing my way through a stack of CD's I'd been sent. Most got no further than the 3rd of 4th track but this one grabbed me from it's first notes. Since then, it's found it's way on to the deck more than a few times. US born, Edinburgh-based, vocalist Jess Abrams is the first jazz singer since Christine Tobin I can feel genuinely enthusiastic about. Her voice has a gorgeous soft tone and a hint of Blossom Dearie but I can also hear some more interesting echoes here - people like Ricki Lee Jones, Mary Margaret and the McGarrigles. Of course, she's helped by a wonderfully sympathetic Dutch backing group and by an impeccably tasteful song selection. Here she matches Cole Porter, Dave Frishberg and Julie London's squeeze Bobby Troup with Cat Stevens, Phoebe Snow and a marvellous take on 'Hungry Wolf' by punk band X. But the real joy with Ms. Abrams' debut is that it invites you in and makes you feel so good, you won't want to leave.
A stone delight.
This has to be one of the most charming debuts in a long time. Jess Abrams – an American singer based in Edinburgh – is the first singer to impress me since Chris Tobin. With a fine, mainly Dutch, backing group, this witty and intelligent set mixes songwriters as different as Cat Stevens (The Wind), Dave Frishberg (Peel Me A Grape) and Phoebe Snow (Harpo's Blues). There are echos of Maria Muldaur and Rickie Lee Jones in her vocal style but there's also a rare depth of personality here as well. Abrams finds her own meaning in each lyric and makes it her own. Make no mistake, Jess Abrams is a class act.
New York descendant vocalist Jess Abrams created an extraordinary beautiful debut. With songs from, amongst others, Cat Stevens, Michel Legrand, Phoebe Snow, Cole Porter and Buddy Johnson, Abrams sings considerate and sensible. Her soft voice sounds authentic, fragile and at the same time convincing. Her singing has a feeling of timing and intonation that bring the words alive. She is a ‘storyteller’ who takes you along the road of precious memories. Jess Abrams may (still) be a little unknown, her band is not. Four musicians positioned in the front row of Dutch and European jazz. The music of this quartet caresses our senses. Jazz at the level of chamber music. Intimate, adequate, lyrical, melodious and consistent in their interaction. So it's double pleasure. With the enchanting voice of Abrams and the excellent play of this renowned quartet. Growing Up deserves a large audience. Keep an eye at the concert lists !
With a seductive voice, slightly hoarse (in a good way), a sigh, a feel good moment, and a timing and phrasing which would make many jazz singers jealous, Abrams sings the songs that moved her as a child, Abrams follows the rhythm with a pulling stride, bassist Tony Overwater puts down a floating floor with his dry tone which gives much room to the lyricism, a number like Peel me a grape dances from your speakers and an electrifying emotion fills the best songs like The Wind by Cat Stevens and Harpo's Blues by Phoebe Snow.
Abrams has a nice jazzy voice and perfect timing. The selection includes the meaningful My Heart Belongs to Daddy by Cole Porter, in addition to the self-written Almost Always Never and a very beautiful song from Cat Stevens, The Wind. It's an interesting debut, made all the more appealing by her choice of Dutch accompaniment.
"The quartet plays concentrated and gentle. They are four top musicians from Holland. They accompany the very pleasant voice of Jess Abrams. The repertoire is a reflection of her life: from pop to jazz, from Cat Stevens to Cole Porter. Remarkable are Peel Me a Grape by `David Frishberg and Almost Always, Never composed by Tony Overwater and lyrics by Abrams."