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Daryl Sherman - Guess Who's in Town Print E-mail
Monday, 01 January 2007
format:    16-bit CD
performance:    7
sound:    7
release year:    2006
label:    Arbors
reviewed by:    Scott Yanow

ImageUp to the 1970s, the evolution of jazz went by so fast that many thought that newer styles “replaced” older ones, since they were thought of as being superior. It was considered very unusual for a talented young vocalist to choose to sing in an older style, at least until the late Susannah McCorkle burst upon the scene. She was an underrated force in the movement to revive and revitalize standards without merely copying earlier recordings. Since her emergence, other singers have followed, ranging from the New Orleans jazz of Banu Gibson and the swing of Rebecca Kilgore to the heartfelt if straight versions of standards by Linda Ronstadt.

Daryl Sherman emerged a decade after Susannah McCorkle as a talented singer-pianist who had a natural feel for swing tunes. Her high voice can sound like Mildred Bailey or hint at the sly wit of Blossom Dearie, but she has her own joyful musical personality and can play piano on the level of most professionals. Her father, Sammy Sherman, was a fine trombonist and violinist, so Daryl grew up around music. She learned the older songs in her youth and has since developed a huge repertoire that not only includes standards but complete obscurities from the past and occasional originals. While she is best known in New York and England, her reputation has been gradually growing in the rest of the jazz and cabaret world where her subtle delivery and ability to uplift even the most familiar songs are considered valuable skills.

Most of the selections on Guess Who’s in Town feature Sherman in a trio, with guitarist Jon Wheatley and bassist Dave Greene. Among the new discoveries are “Tennessee Fish Fry” (recorded by Mildred Bailey in 1940 but rarely performed since), “Like a Puzzle,” and the completely unknown “Dream Awhile,” with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer in 1936. Other selections include Duke Ellington’s happy “Love You Madly,” an instrumental rendition of “Lullaby of Birdland” and a medium-tempo version of “Embraceable You.”
Three songs find the trio augmented by the Stan Getz-inspired tenor of Harry Allen, and the group expands to a quintet on “Underneath the Arches” with the addition of bass saxophonist Vince Giordano. Giordano is also a large part of “Guess Who’s in Town” (during which he joins Sherman in a vocal duet), and is on “Someday Sweetheart.” “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” also features a slight variation, a duet between the singer and bassist Jay Leonhart.

Throughout Guess Who’s in Town, Daryl Sherman contributes consistently warm vocals and tasteful melodic piano. The program would have benefited from the inclusion of a few uptempo numbers for variety, but what is here is satisfying. The music is relaxing but also contains inner heat, so listen closely.

The sound quality is clean, logical and impeccable. The focus is usually on Daryl Sherman. Her piano blends well behind the other soloists and her own voice, making the set sound very much like an intimate concert.

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