Jonathan Widran Review of "Bridges"
May 1, 2018
Perhaps best known for opening for Abbey Lincoln, winning a slew of vocal competitions and her acclaimed one woman show celebrating African American icon Ethel Waters, Shirley Crabbe makes a compelling emotional case for being most celebrated for her own rich artistry with her second full length release – a jaunty celebration of Bridges and the meaningful connections we make with other people. With a sensual, resonant and rangy soul-jazz voice that may remind jazz fans of Dianne Reeves, Crabbe – under the musical direction of pianist Donald Vega – romps through an eclectic set blending pop and jazz standards (by everyone from Irving Berlin and Rodgers & Hart to Michel Legrand, Milton Nascimento and Billy Joel), sparkling Crabbe-Vega composed originals (including the exuberant title track and the heartfelt, optimistic “Promise Me”) and a subtle swing version of the classic hymn “Blessed Assurance” that will resonate beyond just the faithful.
Beyond allowing her to showcase her sensually cool and dynamic range, the unique set list allows Crabbe to pay homage to several important personal influences. Her lighthearted stroll through “Isn’t This A Lovely Day” is an homage to Ella Fitzgerald, while “Taking a Chance on Love” is a tune made famous by Waters. Other song selections come directly from Crabbe’s live set list, including the brisk cha-cha arrangement of Rodgers & Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” (featuring a playful trumpet solo by Brandon Lee) and a percussive spin through “The Windmills of Your Mind,” whose lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman perfectly fit the theme of this extraordinarily thoughtful project.
Shirley Crabbe "Bridges"
Vocalist Shirley Crabbe is a marvelous Jazz singer who makes singing seem effortless. Her interpretation of Lyric and her beautiful Voice produce a sound as smooth as silk! Her CD is called "Bridges" and it's all about connections through our lives. It contains an eclectic list of songs, including some Jazz standards, a Pop tune, a couple of originals and a hip, updated version of "Blessed Assurance" which is a well-known Christian hymn that is one of her mother's favorite songs. The first cut on the CD is the Irving Berlin classic "Isn't It A Lovely Day" that is closely associated with Ella Fitzgerald who was an important influence on Shirley Crabbe. Whenever I listen to a singer for the first time, I really like to hear them sing a classic standard song. Singing a song that has been covered by all of the greatest Jazz vocalists in history usually tells me up front the level of talent the vocalists has. Most singers simply copy the style of the performer who had the hit and most times the results are less than satisfying. However, even though Ella was one of Shirley's influences, she takes on the classic song and brings some of herself to it, adding something new but retaining the integrity of the original recording. Few singers can accomplish this feat and Shirley is one of them. It was a pleasure to experience her talents on this CD and I highly recommend that this CD would make a terrific Christmas present for any lover of the "Great American Songbook".
Shirley has gathered two brilliant Jazz Pianists to join her on this CD, David Budway and Donald Vega who also was the musical director for the CD. In addition, the fine list of musicians below helped make this CD an outstanding musical presentation.
Donald Vega-Piano & Musical Director
David "The Budman" Budway (1,8,9)
Ulysses Owens Jr-Drums
Alvester Garnett-Drums- (2,10)
1. "Isn't It A Lovely Day"
2. "Taking A Chance On Love"
4. "The Bridge"
5. "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
6. "Promise Me"
7. "The Windmills Of Your Mind"
8. "And So It Goes"
9. "Thief In The Night"
10. "Blessed Assurance"
I found two "YouTube" videos showcasing the great Jazz vocal singing by Shirley Crabbe. I am sure you will enjoy the wonderful arrangements also! The first one is an Irving Berlin classic, "Isn't This A Lovely Day" and the second is the Evergreen "Taking A Chance on Love".
Shirley Crabbe: Bridges