A number of years ago I heard opera-turned-jazz vocalist Rose Kingsley deliver an impressive reading of standards backed by a hip jazz trio. This time around, the 4 octave diva goes one step further in providing a collection of duets supported by the warm digits of pianist of musical director Bob Corwin. For the occasion, the pair go to the famed studios of Capitol Records and select material from its co-founder and famed composer Johnny Mercer, with a result of interpretations that are both rich in emotion and musical artistry.
Kingsley uses her stage experience to turn each song into a dramatic and emotive aria, giving a resigned and lonely feel of regret to “Autumn Leaves” while displaying wide eyed wanderlust on “Moon River/Days of Wine and Roses”. You feel as if she’s acting out a scene during “I Remember You”, and is as haunting as a Gene Tierney portrait for “Laura”. She taps into her inner Marlene Dietrich with Corwin the saloon keeper on “One For My Baby” and the two give a world wise sass to “Blues In The Night”.
The impressive thing here is that Kingsley and Corwin both know how to create an arc in a song, with her vibrato reaching just the right peak during “Come Rain Come Shine” and having his fingers stride to build a swing with her timing on the optimistic “Too Marvelous For Words”. Each chorus becomes part of the complete song, which becomes part of the complete album, completing the tribute in a single act. A mix of Verdian emotion with Tin Pan Alley street sense.