Darden Purcell, Love’s Got Me In A Lazy Mood Review
by Jeff Becker
Darden Purcell’s third album, Love’s Got Me In A Lazy Mood, is a remarkable set of music that shows her skill as a jazz vocalist and deep immersion in the genre’s rich traditions. The album encapsulates a journey through the Great American Songbook, with forays into Latin-influenced numbers and an original composition with lyrics, all rejuvenated by Purcell’s intimate and expressive vocal style.
In “Willow Weep for Me,” Purcell’s interpretation brings a bluesy nuance to the fore, showcasing her ability to blend vocal agility with emotional depth. The arrangement’s 9/8 rhythm, an unconventional choice, adds a fresh perspective to this standard, perfectly complementing Purcell’s dynamic vocal expression. The synergy between Joe Locke’s vibraphone and Shawn Purcell’s guitar creates a soundscape of the West Coast cool jazz era.
The title track, “Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood, ” highlights where Purcell’s voice dances gracefully through the complex angular melody, reminiscent of a 1950s horn player’s finesse. Her tone is consistently rounded, accentuated by crystal-clear diction and pitch control. This track underscores Purcell’s ability to inhabit a song fully, transforming it through her unique interpretive lens.
“A Cottage for Sale” is a poignant ballad that allows Purcell to shine as a true balladeer. Her phrasing is classic and emotive, delivering the lyrics with a sincerity that touches the heart while maintaining a swing that invigorates the soul. This performance reaffirms Purcell’s status as a versatile vocalist, equally adept at conveying the subtleties of a ballad as she is in more upbeat numbers.
“Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness)” shows Purcell’s versatility and expertise in Latin jazz. Singing in Portuguese, she navigates the complexities of the language with ease, her voice soaring over a beautifully executed bossa nova rhythm section of Jeff Reed’s bass and Todd Harrion’s drums. The transition to English in the latter part of the song is seamless, further highlighting her skill as a bilingual vocalist.
The album also features the original composition “Chatterbox,” co-written with Shawn Purcell. This track is a vibrant nod to the hard bop era, with Darden’s original lyrics and Shawn’s melodies that capture the spirit of the style. The intricate composition by Shawn, coupled with Darden’s lyrical creativity, produces a piece steeped in jazz tradition.
In “Taking a Chance on Love,” Purcell showcases her rhythmic sophistication and playful phrasing. The harmonic interplay between the vibes and guitar harks back to the classic arrangements of jazz legends. Todd Simon’s tasteful piano playing adds to the timeless sound of the ensemble in the West Coast’s cool aesthetic.
Love’s Got Me In A Lazy Mood is a compelling blend of traditional and West Coast cool jazz elements. Purcell’s command of the vocal jazz idiom is exceptional. Her ability to convey a spectrum of emotions, from the wistful melancholy of ballads to the joyful exuberance of up-tempo bebop numbers, shows her range and depth as a vocalist. The album’s coherent theme of love, combined with Darden’s evident passion for singing and storytelling, makes it an enchanting listen. The arrangements by Shawn Purcell give each track a distinct character, contributing to the album’s cohesive and sophisticated sound. Love’s Got Me In A Lazy Mood is an outstanding collection of songs presented by an agile ensemble that unfolds a jazz narrative woven through timeless melodies, innovative arrangements, and the unmistakable voice of Darden Purcell.