Lauren White

Meant to Be

Cherry Pie
Lauren White clearly was “meant to be” a singer, to quote the title of her new CD. She sings in a clear, no-frills style, relying on her basic vocal instrument to create an attractive sound that adapts itself to a variety of jazz styles, and she surrounds herself with the instrumental power of the Quinn Johnson Trio, which adds power and effective support to her strong sound to create musical artistry.

Among the standouts on the 10-cut, 42-minute recording is “The Meaning of the Blues” (Leslie Worth/Bobby Troup), which shows White off at her sultry best, with a deliberate, caressing vocal amped up with powerful backing from Johnson on piano, Ray Brinker on drums and Trey Henry on bass. There’s also a medley that combines Carole King’s “Music” with an instrumental-only version of John Coltrane’s “After the Rain,” which includes a vocal undertone by White and Clifford Bell, who served as executive producer for the CD. The two also combine on backup vocals for “Everything Must Change” (Bernard Ighner), featuring White’s uplifting, joyous vocal, with a Latin instrumental backing.

The CD opens with a bluesy medley of “Angel Eyes” (Matt Dennis/Earl Brent) that flows seamlessly into “Your Heart Is as Black as Night” (Melody Gardot), then back to the first song, with a sweet, sultry vocal and a strong tenor saxophone support from Bob Sheppard. That’s followed by the syncopated rhythms of “I Can’t Be New” (Susan Werner/ Jane Paul) and a bossa-style “Chove Chura” (“Constant Rain,” with music and Portuguese lyrics by Jorge Ben and an English translation by Norman Gimbel), with White’s cascading lyric line fronting effective piano accompaniment from Johnson.

The CD also features Joshua Redman’s “Wish,” a classic-sounding jazz ballad with White’s smooth, gentle vocal and Johnson’s laid-back piano support, and Stephen Sondheim’s “Now You Know” (Merrily We Roll Along)—a song that lends itself easily to a jazz interpretation—featuring a strong piano intro, followed by Kevin Winard on bongos before the vocal.

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
June 1, 2013