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  • Jonathan Widran

LAUREN WHITE, Making It Up As We Go Along

 

A thoughtful and engaging, one of a kind storyteller, crafty phrase turner and soulful vocal interpreter now entering her second decade as a celebrated recording artist, Lauren White’s humorously titled fifth album Making It Up As We Go Along has all the elements an L.A. based jazz singer needs for a stellar success.


Namely, producer Barbara Brighton, an ensemble led by her longtime pianist/arranger Quinn Johnson and featuring guitarist Larry Koonse and saxophonist/flutist Katisse Buckingham, songs with clever lyrics by Mark Winkler and Lorraine Feather – and perhaps most magical and surreal of all, a playful duet with raspy voiced scat master Paul Jost on one of the collection’s snappier and quirkier gems “Vrohoula.”


For all those elements, charisma and charm for days and one of those supple, captivating “could sing the phone book” voices that serves intimate ballads and wild swing tunes equally well, the most memorable part of White’s latest triumph is her way off the beaten path choice of material. In the age of the Golden Bachelor, this is a collection of love songs for mature, world wise folks who’ve been there, done that and want a little crazy spice in their love songs.


The singer sets the sly tone of the collection by following a spritely, horn-drenched spin through Donald Fagen’s humorous blow off song “I’m Not the Same Without You” (read the lyrics: she’s better off) with the more conventional, sweetly bossified sentiment of “I’m Glad There is You” and the funked up romp “Unlikely Valentine,” in which White uses her flair for the humorous and dramatic to remind us love can still surprise us at any stage of our life. Later in the tracking, she smartly follows the dreamy, free-spirited title track (an ode to exploring love’s possibilities without pretense or roadmap) with the introspective “I Have the Feeling I’ve Been Here Before,” featuring Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s ode to trying again despite having experienced heartbreak.


Along the way, White draws inspiration from the likes of Mark Murphy (the graceful intimate ballad “Our Game”), Dizzy Gillespie (a snazzy, brassy cha-cha spin through “Tin Tin Deo”) and even Stevie Wonder via his sultry and poetic but ultra-obscure “Make Sure You’re Sure” from Jungle Fever. White is a grand multi-talent with a long history of live performing and TV producing – but she clearly saves her greatest creative expressions for her always wondrous adventures in jazz.

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