Passionate, robust singers with the sensitivity of a Carmen McRae and the sass of a Dinah Washington aren't exactly thick on the ground these days, which is what makes Mary Stallings' return to the studios a cause for rejoicing. Her voice is, at once, contemporary and timeless, encompassing the entire history of jazz vocals. For her newest release -- "Dream" -- the former colleague of Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie sails through a program of standards and obscurities with elegance and ease, her slightly blues-tinged phrasings beautifully supported by pianist and arranger Eric Reed.
Houston Person is a gentleman of jazz, a versatile player with a seemingly effortless approach that's elegantly sensuous and unabashedly romantic. There's a smooth, creamy warmth to his tone, but a decidedly muscular undercurrent keeps saccharine sweetness firmly at bay. On his new CD -- "Moment to Moment" -- his players provide superbly understated, gently swinging support with trumpeter Terell Stafford receiving plenty of time in the spotlight. Beautifully recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, Person explores and elaborates on melodic themes, reflecting upon rather than reinventing each composition with an emphasis on the sheer beauty of timeless tunes.