Customer Review

April 21, 2017
Jazz vocalists, expanding their repertoire, have recently turned to women songwriters in the rock and folk world, such as Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro. Sarah Partridge now presents her renditions of tunes by Janis Ian, who is still writing songs. Indeed, the two collaborated on a couple lyrics in this collection. Ian's fame peaked in the 1970s after at age 14 in 1965 writing a provocative song that caught the attention of Leonard Bernstein. Ian continues to write songs of profound social importance. This album includes a chilling jazz piece about the Holocaust [Tattoo], another about racial bigotry and separation at high school [Society's Child], the lament of the murdered gay college man in Wyoming [Matthew], another lament about an abandoned love child [Orphan of the Wind], but also romances gone bad, [A Quarter Past Heartache; Silly Habits] or gained [Forever and A Day]. Also present are an elder citizen's blues [Belle of The Blues] and anthem [I'm Still Standing] and a rocking electric blues of cafe society [Bright Lights & Promises]. Partridge moreover sings Ian's most well-known song that concerns retrospective reflections on awkward youth [Seventeen]. The supporting band is strong, with famous reed maven Scott Robinson on tenor and soprano saxophone, flute, and clarinet, featured in the samba Calling Your Name; Paul Meyers on acoustic guitar; Ben Stein playing electric guitar, Ben Williams adding some cheerful character with his trombone, and pianist, arranger, producer Allen Farnham, bassist Bill Moring, and drummer Tim Horner cementing the beat. Partridge includes scatting in her vocals, and on the first collaborative track, A Quarter Past Heartache, she is joined by Ian herself. Partridge began her career as an actor in film and television, but a serendipitous karaoke session led to hiring for a concert and a new direction. Encouraged by Doc Cheatham, she honed her jazz art in New York and Los Angeles. This album is her fifth. If you are not familiar with the songs of Janis Ian, the lyrics will astonish you, and Partridge has done great service in bringing them forward and in such a very fine manner with swinging brightness, great phrasing, poignancy, and deeply sensitive blues and ballads.
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4.1 out of 5 stars