Carolyn Lee Jones, In A Long White Room

by Constance Tucker

Sophistication, style, and panache, all the qualities you hope to find when listening to a jazz vocalist.  These traits and more can be found on any Carolyn Lee Jones recording, but in particular on her latest endeavor In a Long White Room.  Billed as classic vintage pop, united with jazz-tinged arrangements, with 60’s and 70’s favorites, renewed with swinging rhythms, straight- ahead jazz and Latin grooves, soulful and sultry ballads, with a touch of R&B.   Accurate, yes – but even more so when presented by Jones.  She has an easy-going timbre to her voice, one that invites the listener to relax, with a good friend.  Jones is excellent at conveying each tunes story, and is authentic with her delivery as these seem to be tunes Jones grew up and cut her ear on as a youth.

Classics like “Moondance,” universally appealing to many genres, and becoming the new standard go to for jazz aficionados, features an up-tempo Latin groove and Jones is up to the task, she gently lays atop the melody with conviction and believability, all the while delivering her engaging voice and Latin-tinged delivery with aplomb.

Another well-known classic made famous by the indelible Maria Muldaur is “Midnight at the Oasis,” this is a tune that could be a no-no to touch as Muldaur certainly has a definitive version.  Jones doesn’t hinder in her rendition.  She sparkles with effervescence and the track again, presents a no-fuss arrangement, which tributes the tune, when something is good – why arrange it so badly that you can’t recognize it for the sake of being original.  Jones, does not fall into this trap, and her voice is supple and well-supported by her ensemble.

One cannot overlook the title track “In A Long White Room.”  Jones once again honors the genius of writers Clint Ballard Jr., and Martin Charnin.  Many of you remember this 1969 single made famous by Nancy Wilson.  Jones honors the original arrangement and is perfectly suited for this song.  Many of the same qualities of Wilson’s voice, are also mirrored in Jones’ range and delivery.

I think what I enjoyed most about In a Long White Room, the album is the innocence of the lyrics, in a world filled with so much turmoil, the 60s and 70s kept it hopeful, while still conveying a sense of reality, but not with such harshness.  It is nice to see Jones’ well-chosen themes and apposite tunes come to light.  A keeper for jazz fans and adult contemporary listeners alike. Well done, and a welcomed change.

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