L’Tanya Mari, A Teardrop of Sun

By: Jeff Becker

With a plethora of jazz vocalist CDs being released everyday especially lately, how does one go about choosing a worthwhile CD to add to their collection. This brings me to my introduction of a Virginia based vocalist by the name of L’Tanya Mari’. You know so many times there is an assumption that because a vocalist is on a major label that somehow that CD will be head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. That is completely not the case in many circumstances and especially not lately. The major labels keep throwing CDs out to the industry and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. Well, this lady sticks, so much so, you will find her sticking to each rib like a satisfying meal that you have waited for all day for, while it was cooking in the kitchen.

The meal begins with a classic Bill Evans cut “Very Early.” L’Tanya’s vocal command is demonstrated clearly in her beautiful negotiation of the two-octave melody, easily navigating over the multiple keyed harmonic platform.

My next favorite course was “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues” a show piece for L’Tanya’s wide vocal range and rhythmic command. Her command is in full display as she never losses the sultry blues feeling through-out the 5:27 minute steamy selection.

The meal ends with a perfect dessert. The rapport between guitarist Paul Wingo and L’Tanya is evident in “You Go to My Head.” The two make this duet setting breath with life, L’Tanya’s falsetto notes are always richly supported by Wingo’s thoughtful voicings. It is a treat to hear L’Tanya’s voice exposed so that one can appreciate the clear warm tones she is able to invoke from her sweet voice, her vibrato on this selection is very reminiscent of the great Billy Holliday.

Mari studied with the celebrated drummer-singer Grady Tate who influences (the artist’s bio states) inclined her phrasing, urging her to always connect with an audience by really feeling the lyrics.

A Teardrop of Sun may only be a debut release but it comes across as a Junior outing the minute you pop it into the player. A disc worth adding to your jazz collection by any means but, be sure it has its own special place not thrown in with the rest of the vocal CDs on your shelf being pumped into the market lately. Place it by Vaughn or Holiday and it will truly be among its piers.

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