Carmen Lundy - Jazz And The New Songbook
REVIEW By Willard Manus

Carmen Lundy is a jazz vocalist who almost made it to the top, only to lose ground in the 90s. This doesn't mean, though, that she still doesn't still have her vocal and performing chops. For proof, check out her latest release, CARMEN LUNDY--JAZZ AND THE NEW SONGBOOK.

Recorded live at the Madrid Theatre in L.A., the CD is an impressive showcase for this multi-talented artist who not only sings but composes, arranges, paints and acts (she played Billie Holiday in an Off-Broadway musical).

To me, Lundy sounds more like Sarah than Billie, especially when she cuts loose and does amazing things with her voice, first teasing and caressing the lyrics, then shifting gears and switching to a high falsetto, only to break off and dive down, then swoop to the heights again, all in the space of a few brief moments (as she does on Something to Believe In).

Lundy wrote all the numbers she sings on JAZZ AND THE NEW SONGBOOK, showing not only her range as vocalist but the many sides of her fertile imagination. Something to Believe In has a gospel feel, ditto her inspirational anthem Better Days, but in ballads like Where'd It Go? and Walking Code Blue she explores the blues in a dark, somber way. Lundy can also rock, though, which she does on All Day, All Night a frank, joyous appreciation of physical love (set to a Latin beat).

Lundy's latest CD is also distinguished for its back-up musicians, some of whom are LA's finest, such as Billy Childs (piano), Phil Upchurch (guitar), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums) and Curtis Lundy (acoustic bass). Their ensemble work and soloing are of the highest order. On some tracks, Lundy used members of the LA String Quartet to give resonance and depth to her ballads.

Worth mentioning too is Lundy's unique arrangement and interpretation of the powerful Langston Hughes poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (retitled One More River to Cross). (