It has been a few years since I last heard from jazz vocalist Cynthia Felton and… wait, let me put a pause on this review for a moment. Anyone who has kept track of my reviews over the years know how vocal jazz tends to be like pulling teeth for me. But when a vocalist comes along to blow me away, I want to hear more and tell everyone about it. On top of that, I think when a good jazz vocalist shows the potential of being great, calling them simply a “jazz vocalist” tends to be limiting. But with that said, I’ll pick up with my review.
Felton is a vocalist who shows off her talent and skill in choosing quality songs in a tribute album to Duke Ellington called Come Sunday (Felton Entertainment). The songs on this album are true standards, like most of The Duke’s songbook, but it’s great to be able to hear arrangements that are both true to the original spirit and different enough to still keep a grip onto these songs. The new arrangements are a way to help keep Ellington’s music alive and vibrant to a younger generation, so when you hear Felton perform “I’m Beginning To See The Light”, “Perdido”, and “In A Sentimental Mood”, you’re hearing a singer who becomes one with the song, if not become the song, with a voice that is truly incredible.
Ellington had a way of writing songs where as it came to an end, it didn’t sound like a proper conclusion, but almost as if to say “to be continued”. His music never stopped. Felton, as the album’s producer and arranger, understands this and I believe both Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and the other composers involved would have smiled and thanked her and everyone involved with the album “very kindly”. Felton is a singer who I’d want to hear all day and night, and even in those mornings when a good song could soothe the nerves. I would love to hear what kind of compositions Felton herself may have in her own songbook, but her vibrant approach in covering jazz legends will keep old and new fans curious as to whom she’ll honor next, and perhaps more importantly keep them wanting to hear more from this fantastic talent.