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CD Review
Anna Givens - Just Last Year… Part One

Anna Givens

Just Last Year… Part One
Record Label: Galena St. Music
Review by Sal Serio
June 2012

The latest release by singer Anna Givens was recorded live Spring 2011 at Murphy’s Place in Toledo, Ohio. Claude Black (Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery) serves as primary pianist on these jazz vocal standards with minimal accompaniment, mostly just piano and bass. Givens illuminates the material with a touch of spunk and playfulness, evident on “Honeysuckle Rose”. Some material swings more emphatically, especially with drums (“Green Dolphin Street”) provided courtesy of Jay Bergs.

When the composition calls for a melancholy, reflective attitude, Anna rises to that occasion too, with a sweet seriousness that tugs at one’s heart strings, stopping just shy of total heartbreak (“Blame It On My Youth” & “Since I Fell For You”). The Bacharach/David classic “Alfie” showcases Givens’ impressive range, from a sultry baritone to pristine soprano altitudes, giving the popular Dionne Warwick version a serious run for it’s money.

My personal highlight is “One For My Baby”, the pinnacle of all barfly last call scenarios. Ms. Givens paints the mood perfectly to the point where I swear I felt my pupils contracting in reaction to low light, there was a whiff of glass sanitizer in the air, and I swear I saw Jack Kerouac slouched in the corner.

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