By Scott Yanow | Published April 2019
Simone Kopmajer, a swing singer from Austria who has a quiet voice and a subtle delivery, is at this point much better known in Europe than in the United States. Spotlight On Jazz is her 13th album as a leader since 2003, and it features her singing in flawless English on six standards, five of her originals and two songs by pianist Paul Urbanek.
As with most of the originals, the opening “Spotlights” sounds like it could have been written in the late 1930s or ’40s. Kopmajer’s singing on that number is touched by early Billie Holiday, an association accentuated by the Lester Young-flavored playing of tenor saxophonist Terry Myers (the current leader of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra). “You Don’t Call Me” is a love song about frustration, while “Mighty Tender Love” is much happier and taken as a swinger with spirited tenor and guitar solos. “Dig That Riff” (heard in two versions, including a frivolous, if fun, remix) offers singing in unison with the tenor and guitar, but mostly is an instrumental number. The fanciful “Remember Jeannie,” the warm ballad “A Gift From Buddy,” and the rollicking blues-based “We’re Goin’ In” also are enjoyable.
Of the standards, “Pennies From Heaven” is recast as a jazz waltz, “Poinciana” retains the essence and rhythm of Ahmad Jamal’s version, and “Exactly Like You” finds Kopmajer scatting a fine horn-like chorus. The Louis Armstrong-associated “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” infrequently is accompanied by vocals, but this rendition might lead some to reassess the song. “Mood Indigo” and a relaxed “Stompin’ At The Savoy” wrap up this satisfying set.
Spotlight On Jazz: Spotlights; Pennies From Heaven; You Don’t Call Me; Mighty Tender Love; Poinciana; Dig That Riff; Remember Jeannie; Struttin’ With Some Barbecue; Exactly Like You; A Gift From Buddy; Stompin’ At The Savoy; We’re Goin’ In; Mood Indigo; Dig That Riff (Remix). (64:21)
Personnel: Simone Kopmajer, vocals; Terry Myers, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Paul Urbanek, piano; Martin Spitzer, guitar; Karl Sayer, bass; Reinhardt Winkler, drums.