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Jazz

Freda Payne

Come Back to Me Love

[Artistry/Mack Avenue]

3 stars

You really don’t want to hear 80 percent of the jazz-singing pretenders in the current invading horde of them attempting to scat. A would-be female jazz singer not only needs to understand that she’s not Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan but she needs to know why she’s not, too.

Freda Payne can get away with scat singing. But then there’s very little on disc she can’t get away with. She’s nothing if not experienced as both a jazz singer and as a purveyor of premium pop. She is, after all, a woman who began singing with a jazz band at the grand old age of 14 – a woman whose debut on record in 1963 was on the Impulse Label no less and arranged by Manny Albam.

Always a great beauty (she still is), she made an even bigger impact in the pop world in 1970 with a hit version of “Band of Gold.”

To find her returning to an offshoot label of the great current label of her native Detroit – Mack Avenue – is a nice return home of a sort. There’s nothing revelatory here but it’s a pleasure to hear her in 2014 sing and own a song like “Save Your Love for Me” whose gorgeous and classic version by Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly so intimidated her once.

She’s no Ella, she’s no Nancy Wilson either. But to remain a true-blue Freda Payne in this day and age so overrun by jazz vocal aspirants of dubious ability is quite a splendid thing to be.

Bill Cunliffe and his accompanying band of L.A. studio prodigiez knew it. They all sound quite fine.

– Jeff Simon