Soul and jazz may be branches from the same cultural/musical tree, but few singers have managed to successfully move back and forth between the two idioms -- Etta James, Dianne Reeves, and Rachelle Ferrell being notable exceptions. Ledisi Young titled her masterful debut CD Soulsinger, spicing the original songs by herself and keyboardist Sundra Manning with liberal helpings of scat and other jazz flavors. The New Orleans-born, Oakland-based vocalist's follow-up is subtitled Jazz Singer, and on it she tackles Ellington, Monk, and Turrentine along with some new Young/Manning material. Scat is Ledisi's forte, and she employs it with particularly imaginative melodic and rhythmic aplomb on the title song, "Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue," matching Pete Escovedo and Karl Perazza's Latin percussion workouts beat for syncopated beat. Her daring leaps of register seem to draw on Ferrell's, but Ledisi lands off-key far too often. And hyper arrangements of the ballads " 'Round Midnight," "In a Sentimental Mood," and "Autumn Leaves" prove unsuited to their composers' tender intentions. Such missteps in intonation and taste unfortunately mar this otherwise satisfying sophomore set by one of the Bay Area's most creative singers.
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