Personnel: Janet Seidel, vocals, piano (5,7,9,14); Kevin Hunt—piano (others); Chuck Morgan-guitar; David Seidel-bass; Ben Jones—drums; Adam Pache—drums; Fabian Hevia—percussion. Strings arr. by George Brodbeck, Maree Steinway & Andrew Robinson. Produced by David Seidel.
2.If They Asked Me, I Could Write a Book
5.Miami Beach Rhumba
7.Whatever Lola Wants
8.Lullaby of Birdland
9.Cow Cow Boogie
11.Cry Me a River
12.The Breeze and I
13.Over the Rainbow
I’m sure the title alone here will put some off :). What ‘lounge’ means here (as on the other two volumes she released) is a small jazz group augmented by strings & a few extra instruments at times. Seidel is Australia’s premier female jazz singer, and has been for many years, since starting in the ‘80’s, and recording
Her style by her own admission--and some tribute albums to prove it--is formed by close attention to Doris Day, Peggy Lee and Blossom Dearie. Like Dearie, she’s also a fine pianist (& has some of the same wispy humor), has much of DD’s sweetness, and touches of Peggy’s understated sexiness, as well as a lean, no muss/no fuss style. She can also be compared to contemporary Rebecca Kilgore; if Seidel is a little more of a cabaret/saloon singer.
This set is characterized mainly by ballads, if at times with surprising, if still excellent mainstream arrangements. Some of those include slight upbeat, even Latinish touches on ‘Midnight Sun’; or by contrast, a very rich and slow approach to ‘The Breeze and I’ (often done more upbeat). ‘I Could Write a Book’ is a more upbeat moment here too, though some would treat it as a ballad.
Throughout, there’re Latin aspects on several, including ‘Whatever Lola Wants,’ with large areas left for the players. Chuck Morgan and brother David Seidel have played w. Janet from the beginning, and their deft touches/virtuosity and communication are stellar, and real additions. Morgan’s guitar here is especially nice. On the more upbeat moments like ‘Lola’ and ‘Cow Cow Boogie’ there’re nice explorations, if always with attention to the lyrics and melodies, touching on blues and more ‘classic pop’ antecedents. Xavier Cugat’s ‘Miami Beach Rhumba’ is sassy and appealing. And JS is very comfortable swinging, as is everyone in the band.
If JS’s Australian/’British’ pronunciation is apparent at times, she also has a very nice touch at phrasing. She extends vowel sounds subtly, which enhances her conversational style. The glowing warmth of her voice is also very appealing, sexy too, if in an understated, sophisticated and friendly way. Like Kilgore for me, she has a ‘voice with a smile’ that appeals a lot. Just check out ‘Dream’ or her just slightly arch way with ‘Miami Beach Rhapsody.’
At times I feel the strings here are superfluous, if they do add the ‘lounge’ (or ‘classic pop’) element, especially on songs like ‘Moonglow’ & ‘Over the Rainbow’ for example. But they don’t get in the way here either really. For me, JS’s singing here is better than the two earlier ‘Lounge’ volumes.
She has many fantastic albums I think. Besides this one, I particularly recommend: a small group one of Mancini songs, ‘Charade’; the Peggy Lee tribute ‘Don’t Smoke in Bed,’ French one (mainly), ‘Comme Ci Comme Ca’; double one (live/studio sides), ‘The Way You Wear Your Hat’; and ‘Moon of Manakoora.’ Some of the live ones like the Cole Porter one are nice too, if less stellar sound there.
And her duo one with the late Tom Baker, ‘Doodlin’, is also fun if you like duo albums. The others are all nice too.
Very accomplished in her quiet way, Seidel is one of my favorite mainstream jazz singers over the past twenty years, and deserves more attention outside Australia and Asia.