Darden-Purcell-The-Jazz-Word-CDDarden Purcell's latest album, Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood, has been released through Origin Records. If you're unfamiliar with Dr. Purcell, she's a remarkable vocalist who blends different genres and styles. She has presented her work at international venues like the Institute for Jazz Research "Jazz Voices" conference in Graz, Austria. Additionally, she has performed in Sao Paulo, Brazil, courtesy of a Global Education grant from George Mason University. Dr. Purcell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Vocal Jazz Performance from Virginia Tech and both a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Her latest musical journey follows her previous albums, Easy Living and Where the Blue Begins. In Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood, Dr. Purcell transports us through the familiar terrains of classic jazz, serving both as a lead vocalist and an instrumentalist throughout the album's eleven tracks. The album flows with a balance of jazz sounds infused with Latin influences and a touch of Hard-Bop nostalgia. Dr. Purcell's clear diction showcases her linguistic versatility by singing in multiple languages, further drawing us into her legit world of jazz lines and hues.
What captivated me about Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood is its intricate narrative arc. It's not just the virtuosity of each track; it's how the songs collectively unfold, like chapters in a compelling novel, to form a cohesive sonic story, much like chapters in a novel, leading you down an inviting alley of sonic experiences. Dr. Purcell is joined by a talented ensemble: her husband, Shawn Purcell, who wrote all the arrangements and plays the guitar; pianist Todd Simon; Jeff Reed on bass; and Todd Harrison on drums. Vibraphonist Joe Locke adds the perfect finishing touch to this flowing album.
"Willow Weep for Me" breaks away from the usual rhythmic confines of traditional jazz standards; this arrangement delves into the fresh territories of a complex 9/8 time signature. The choice of a 9/8 groove acts as a smoky, bluesy quilt, with the ensemble providing a sonic backdrop for Dr Purcell's warm and expressive vocals. Her voice emerges elegant as a lead vocal and as another instrument during a complex tutti tapestry with piano, vibes, and guitar. This musical choice envelops the listener in an atmosphere so bluesy and smoky, that it's almost tactile. The poetic duel between Locke's vibraphone and Shawn's guitar adds layers of complexity.
Next, we sip the vintage-yet-fresh nectar of "Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood." On the surface, it pays homage to classic jazz structures, yet it sparkles with modern elegance. The vibraphone, wielded masterfully by Joe Locke, adds a shimmer, making it feel like you're savoring an age-old wine in a freshly minted glass. Dr. Purcell's vocals nod to Peggy Lee—smooth, sultry, and oh-so-confident.
Finally, behold "Chatterbox," a standout among standouts, penned by the Purcells. It isn't just Darden's vocal agility that captivates—it's how she soars and dives through the bebop melody, landing each note with the finesse of a gymnast sticking the landing. The track feels like navigating a high-wire act above a crowd of seasoned jazz aficionados, and not a step is missed.
...and the list goes on. Whether she's capturing the timeless charm of "Taking a Chance on Love" or diving into a Latin-based selection, "Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness)," Darden's like a shape-shifter, seamlessly transitioning between different roles while her voice serves as the golden thread linking these hues of the jazz world.
For some of the ensemble highlights, check out "Taking a Chance on Love," where Shawn and Locke both perform outstanding solos that are flowing and energetic. "A Cottage for Sale" displays Simon's sensitive accompanying and Harrison's superb ballad brush playing. "I Concentrate on You" is supported by Reed's deep groove with a funky jazz bassline. Simon's piano solo is also excellent on this track. Shawn's arrangements are all highly creative and showcase Darden's vocal range, multilingual abilities, her outstanding technical skills, and her warm, expressive vocal timbre.
In Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood, Darden Purcell offers an intoxicating blend of tradition and modernity, familiarity and surprise. The album pays homage to jazz titans like George Shearing, yet bursts with fresh nuances that make you feel as if you're exploring new vistas of the jazz landscape. So, pour yourself a glass of something pleasing, dim the lights, and let this album whisk you away. The only mood it'll get you in is a spellbound one.