by Jeff Becker
Have you met miss Jones? Now that is an introduction, of introductions. Thankfully, I now have the pleasure with In a Long White Room, which is my first introduction, and one I will now savor. A jazz album? Well some could argue not, but for me, I like my jazz to have many flavors and this one appeals to my 50s, 60s and 70s palette. It is nice to see jazz vocalists taking on more than the standard fare. Not that there is anything wrong with standards, because they have stood the test of time for a reason, but it is nice get some tunes from this era’s greats too.
The title track “In a Long White Room,” begins the offering, a tune that was a hit for Nancy Wilson in 1969 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Jones, does not alter the original arrangement or instrumentation beauty of the piece, rather a fitting tribute to Wilson’s version is at hand. Jones easily navigates this tune, with a light sensibility. The track is not meant to be dark or filled with angst, that is what is great about that era of music in the pop field, tunes were meant to uplift and spread joy. Something this era needs a bit more of.
“Tainted Love,” now that was the coolest tune to see on a jazz album. Soft Cell, of course is best known for making this tune a hit in 1982 – but it was Ed Cobb a member of the Four Preps who penned the tune, which was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964. Jones’ version has an a la “Fever” vibe to it, the bass and drums paint a pulsating rhythm, while the piano paints broad colorization’s.
Another bright and sunny tune “Happy Together,” made famous originally by the Turtles in 1967, is a highlight cut for Jones, given a Latin treatment Jones’ voice is strong and the lyric resonates for her. Her voice easily traverses the dips, peaks and at times she pulls back with whisper-esque tones for full effect, including a bit of rhythmic ornamentation.
Overall, In A Long White Room works on many levels, as a breezy listen and a tribute to an era that featured strong songwriters that put a focus on hooks in tunes. Thankfully, Jones is a delightfully engaging vocalist that puts a focus on the delivery of lyrics as her vehicle, and chooses great tunes to do it with.