Carolyn Fitzhugh is not only a singer of boundless promise she is already a great artist. This disc shows how versatile she is, with not only Jazz standards such as “Maiden Voyage” and “A Night in Tunisia”, but also beckoning vocal rarities such as “When Sunny Gets Blue”. The starting point of the album would appear to be the love song, “Simply Amazing”. But in form true to her lofty ideal, Miss Fitzhugh transforms this song about earthly love into a heavenward modern-day chorale that can only be perceived as if one of the Song of Songs, a plea made in inimitable spiritual manner as only someone of Miss Fitzhugh’s natural-born genius can.
Although this disc feels like a short programme, it is indeed long enough for Carolyn Fitzhugh to reveal herself as an artist of the first order, broadening out from the spiritual/gospel realm – in which she has no peer – into the broader world of Jazz. Her instrument is gorgeous: lustrous, precise and like raw silk. Her musicianship is fierce as she digs into the expression of each word – and in her vocalese – she brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics (as in “When Sunny Gets Blue”) and gives each phrase a heavenly grace. Her darker-hued and classic “A Night in Tunisia” captures the mystery and mystic aura of Dizzy Gillespie’s iconic piece just as earlier Miss Fitzhugh lets her vocalastics unfold with brilliant vulnerability on Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”.
Best of all one get the sense that Carolyn Fitzhugh sounds as if she is singing in her most natural mode of expression. Magically, too, Miss Fitzhugh is supported here by musicians who can literally feel the accelerating and retardation of her very heartbeat as they ride the very coat-tails of her after-burn. Together Larry Brown, Stu Mindeman, Tim Ipsen, Alfonzo Jones and Brent Griffin Jr. lay down the marker of sensitivity and technical adroitness in Miss Fitzhugh’s vocal exploits. In each of the songs, the musicians exhibit a gleamingly blended tonal quality and an articulate engagement with the superstar whose voice they help propel into the stratosphere. A disc to die for.
Track list – 1: I Still; 2: Simply Amazing; 3: When Sunny Gets Blue; 4: Last Night; 5: Maiden Voyage; 6: No Fear of Flying; 7: Always There; 8: A Night in Tunisia
Personnel – Carolyn Fitzhugh: vocals; Larry Brown Jr: guitar; Stu Mindeman: piano; Tim Ipsen: bass; Alfonzo Jones: drums; Brent Griffin Jr: alto saxophone
Released – 2017
Label – Independent
Runtime – 48:32
Vocalist Carolyn Fitzhugh has a soul/gospel sound to her voice, and uses her instincts well on this album of originals and standards with Stu Mindeman/p, Tim Ipsen, Alfonzo Jones, Larry Brown Jr/g and Brent Griffin Jr/as. She throws herself into pieces like her own earthy modal title track, and can also get relaxed and unhurried as on the slinky “Always There.” With Griffin’s alto, she delivers a dramatic read of the bop classic “A Night in Tunisia” whereas she skips along to a flowing take of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage. ” Brown’s guitar complements symbiotically on the flowing and lazy “When Sunny Gets Blue” and the team shows pluck on the smooth sailing “I Still.” Eager to please, and successful as well; truth in advertising on the album title!
CAROLYN FITZHUGH/Simply Amazing: A club singer with a modern edge but with an ear cocked toward tradition serves up an art edged jazz vocal date that harkens to civil rights jazz as much as it does to clubs. With a mostly original set that delivers the goods over good intentions, Fitzhugh has that something extra that inspires you to keep an ear cocked in her direction. If only those music competition show contestants would stop caterwauling for a second and hear how a pro like Fitzhugh can wail from the heart and soul----it would be a better world. Check it out.
830 W. IL. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047