Brenda Lewis. I sat next to her on stage at the Jackie Washington Tribute set at the Festival of Friends. So when she asked if I would be interested in reviewing her new CD I said, “Sure, send it over.” When it arrived I saw a photo of Margaret Stowe on the back. My old friend Margaret, guitarist extraordinaire, and co-producer of jazzlike, now available from CDbaby or from Brenda.
I would say that the album title understates the music. It isn’t just jazzlike, it’s jazz. Brenda mixes some classic tunes with a couple new songs from Canadian composers and ends up with a jumping jazz album that should satisfy anyone who’s been missing Rosemary Clooney.
Margaret provides virtually all the backing with her fine jazz guitar stylings. One track (“Falling in Love Again”) features guest guitar by Tony Quarrington, but other than that it’s Marg and Brenda alone. They work together like a finely tuned machine. The guitar sets the tempo, the voice provides the melody, then Ms. Stowe blows for a verse or two, and Brenda takes it home.
This is torch singing of the highest standard. Quality songs by songwriters like Chris Whiteley (“Second Look”), Rick Fines (“Just Got Back”), Don Hecht (“Walking After Midnight”) and the odd surprise. The final tune is by Neil Young. Brenda and Margaret tackle “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” and put a whole new spin on it. It makes you want to go back to the beginning and start it all over again.