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Label: Daring Sparrow Entertainment

Release Date: June 26, 2020

Rating: 85%

Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

After checking out some great rock records, some ethereal music, and some hot country stuff, it was time once again to shift gears and turn my attention to some smooth jazz material – compliments of Melissa Sullivan and her latest release Late Last Night.  Disc opener “It’s A Love” kicks things off slowly and let’s us bask in the smoky vocals from Melissa while the musical component seems a big jagged and jointed in the mix.  The percussion and piano give the song depth while the vocals take us into the heart of the lyrics.  “He’s Bad” tosses in a sultry feel to the vocals and brings to mind the jazz sound of the classics; to be more honest, I can imagine many a burlesque performer giving it their all to the sexy undertones of the track along with the bump and grind groove of the rhythm section underneath her emotive vocal.  “Borders/Fronteras” is a duet that features a Spanish contribution from Lito de la Isla, adding depth to the collection, demonstrating the reach of jazz across language barriers.  The different textures of Melissa and her counterparts vocals are an interesting mix,as is de la Isla’s guitar work (being the lone track to actually feature any guitar).  “Adrian” moves slowly across the room with a strong cello and piano interlude leading the way from start to finish underneath Sullivan’s vocals in the mix.  The lower end of her range adds depth to the track and keeps the track flowing.  “Sirens” has an ethereal vibe woven into the song without deviating from the discs collective groove.  The song shifts and changes between the verses, chorus, and transitions, keeping you guessing where the track is heading all the while allowing Melissa to throw her emotionally charged vocal on top.

“Miles Away” slows the pace a bit and comes off more like a beautiful ballad and less like jazz, but that is the charm of the track – it is more than it comes off as.  Sullivan’s vocals on the song draw you in and wrap you in a warm blanket of comfort.  The glimpses of her range are evident as the song transitions between verse and chorus and back again.  “Marcella” is a great piece that gives Melissa’s voice a bit of room to run across the musical landscape provided.  The rhythm of the track has a flair to it that makes you want to dance the night away, without being overbearing or having a club feel to it.  Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind,” one of two tracks not written or co-written by Sullivan, is another track that swirls in a fun vibe, much like earlier song “He’s Bad.”  The piano work is contagious and gets the foot tapping, while the percussion and steady bass  lines keep the track grounded.  The vocal shines without standing out in the mix. Be sure to catch the piano on the bridge, as it is some of the best on the disc.  Sullivan shows her strength and confidence when she tackles the Hoagy Carmichael & Jerry Mercer composition “Skylark.”  The songs darker sound and groove is lightened by her vocal and delivery.  The song unfolds slowly and is highlighted by the rhythm sections duet with the horns in the mix while the piano keeps the song grounded.  Sullivan takes great care with the lyrics and does them justice.  Disc closer “Borders” takes us out with a track that pulls out all the stops with the the addition of cello, flute, sax, and clarinet in addition to the core piano, bass, and drums.  The vocal keeps me coming back time and time again; I enjoy listening to her nuances and slight vibrato sprinkled across the song.  While not a daily listener, this one is a welcome addition to my work playlist, as it allows me to enjoy the music without having to focus on it.

Tracklisting: It’s A Love – He’s Bad – Miles Away – Borders/Fronteras – Marcella – Adrian – Lost Mind – Sirens – Skylark – Borders

Core Lineup: Melissa Sullivan (vocals) – Peter Adams (piano) – Edward Maxwell (bass) – Blair Sinta (drums) – Sylvain Carton (horns)






Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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