It's not every day a jazz album comes from the local scene--and a collection of stylish jazz vocals is especially rare. So it's not a surprise to learn that Kate Becker is a recent Tucson transplant, and that she's incorporated a set of sensibilities whose roots reflect experiences from her previous homes in Europe and New York City.
Unlike some jazz singers whose work tends to lean more toward pop, Becker stays true to the form. The musical hooks are subtle, and the vocal phrasing--sometimes sharp and syncopated, other times more breathy and sultry--is always in service to the material. This is especially evident on "Plenty Beautiful," where she seems the most loose and at ease vocally.
Becker has assembled a team of top-shelf players whom she gives lots of room to roam. Even though the solos aren't overly extended, there are times when you can close your eyes and feel like you're in a dark and smoky jazz club: Sly Slipetsky on piano, Ed DeLucia on guitar, Jimmy Carr on vibes and, in particular, saxophonist Dan Puccio all take turns reminding us why jazz is such a vibrant genre. Tom Walbank and his harmonica makes an appearance on "Fool," a sweet blues tune that fits in well, while Marco Rosano plays something approximating an accordion on "Showgirl."
Behind the curtain as Becker's co-writer/producer/arranger for most of these tunes is Gerald Massoud on acoustic bass. With Aaron Emery on drums, they create the effective rhythm section so necessary for any happening jazz ensemble.