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.