Abrams finds her own meaning in each lyric and makes it her own. - Jazz UK
Cat Stevens Reconstructed
An album of songs by Cat Stevens - one of the most wonderful song-writers in my lifetime…
“…invites you in and makes you feel so good, you won't want to leave…” Jazzwise
A Love Letter to New York
From the glamour to the grime, the West Side to the Wild Side... Lou Reed to Leonard Bernstein…
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.
- Jazzwise Magazine, May 2009
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. Lazy listeners might put her in the same bag as Katie Melhua or Norah Jones but Abrams is the real deal. 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.
- Duncan Heining, Jazz UK Magazine, January 2009
On her Debut cd the British singer Jazz Abrams goes back to her youth. 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. Likeable songs mixed with spicy jazz and ballads, modestly accompanied by the fine fleur (fine flowers, the best of) of the Dutch improvised music. Piano player Marc van Roon and reed player Maarten Ornstein draw the mood with colourful melodies. While Jess 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. WIth this a number like Peel me a grape from David Frishberg 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.,
- Daily Trouw, Netherlands March 2008 Armand Serpenti (English Translation)
Jess Abrams - originally from New York - operates these days from Schotland. On Growing Up she is accompanied by pianist Marc van Roon, bass player Tony Overwater, drummer Wim Kegel, and reed-player Maarten Ornstein. The album contains carefully sung whisper-songs - in a style that resembles the successful Norah Jones -, all musically united by the voice of Jess Abrams. The repertoire ranges from 'Amour,Amour,Amour' from a French Fairytale movie, via 'the wind' by Cat Stevens to the punk song 'hungry wolf'. Jess Abrams wrote several lyrics herself and Tony Overwater composed (some music). It is partly/also due to the Dutch sidemen that the music keeps sparkling and is performed with a touch of humor here and there. The well-known Cole Porter song 'my heart belongs to daddy' for example, is performed with a original humoristic approach.
- Johan Bakker, Nederlands Dagblad, 21st March 2008 (English Translation)
With Marc van Roon on piano, Tony Overwater on double bass, Wim Kegel on drums and Maarten Ornstein on saxophone and clarinet, the New York descendant vocalist Jess Abrams created an extraordinary beautiful debut. The well chosen repertoire is based on Music that had meaning in her childhood years. ‘Growing Up’ is the obvious album title. 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 the 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!
- Frank Huser, Jazzflits Magazine, issue 93 February 2008, www.jazzflits.nl (English Translation)
She grew up on the road as a child of the sixties, with alternative parents involved in art, hippiedom and psychedelics. Singer Jess Abrams has colorful memories of that time. Now she plays jazz, and has made that past the subject of her debut CD, ‘Growing Up,’ accompanied by Marc van Roon (piano), Tony Overwater (bass), Wim Kegel (drums) and Maarten Ornstein (saxophone and clarinet). 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.
- René de Cocq, HVT Magazine, Netherlands, April 2008 (English Translation)