In the crowded and talent-filled lady jazz vocalist field, standing apart is no small feat. Some natural vocal chops, combined with a bunch of hard work and a good backing band, can make for a very viable artistic effort, and there are a lot of those around. But a very workable artistic effort is not enough. The singer has to connect on a personal level by telling the stories of her songs in a convincing fashion - in her own vulnerable or tough and world-weary, or sweet, or rough-and-tumble way. That's what Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Blossom Dearie and Anita O'Day did. On her debut release, I'll Get Around to It,
Seattle-based jazz vocalist Carrie Wicks proves herself a very convincing storyteller.
With a wonderful feel for the beat, adept phrasing and a bit of a Tony Bennett hush in her voice, Wicks can make you fall for her on "I'm Old Fashioned," or she can, sweet-voiced on the Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers gem "Everything I've Got," give a grown man a good scare and make him check the room for an escape route. She can also exude a laidback, no-nonsense, Carmen McCrae toughness on "Baby, Get Lost," or sing with a beautiful, horn-like delivery on Elvis Costello's hauntingly surreal "Almost Blue."
The songs come mostly from yesteryear, way back from the thirties and forties, and for the most part are not from the overly-covered side of the old fashioned tunes. Exceptions are Costello's "Almost Blue" (1982) and the Ken Nottingham/Carrie Wicks-penned title cut, both of which slip smoothly into mix.
The first-rate backing band - headed by pianist/composer Bill Anschell, who produced and arranged the disc - sets a vibrant background for Wicks' storytelling, featuring Jeff Johnson's big bass bounce on "I'm Old Fashioned," Hans Teuber's tangy New Orleans-esque clarinet on the title tune, drummer Byron Vannoy's shuffling caresses with the brushes on "Everything I've Got," and Anschell's always exquisite accompaniment and deft embellishments.
I'll Get Around To It
is an extraordinary debut, a first-rate jazz vocal effort.