Comes The Fall

by Beth Duncan

Self Released
Self Released
Jazz vocalist Beth Duncan delivers on every tune on Comes The Fall and is supported by exquisite solo work throughout; the arrangements on the standards are fresh and innovative; and the decision to include several originals is bold and welcome.
NOTES
Comes the Fall is one of the finest jazz vocal albums in recent times says Scott Yanow, jazz reviewer & author of ten jazz books

Beth Duncan, a top-notch jazz singer based in Northern California, has followed up on her Orange Colored Sky CD with a particularly memorable effort. Comes The Fall consists of inventive reworking of standards plus several new originals including three by Martine Tabilio.

Ms. Duncan has a very appealing and powerful voice with a wide range and the ability to hit intervals perfectly. Her jazz improvising is often subtle yet she is also an excellent scat singer, and her interpretations of ballads are heartfelt.

On Comes The Fall, the singer collaborated on the arrangements with guitarist Steve Homan. Also featured is Mike McMullen on tenor and flute, the supportive bassist Bill Douglass and drummer Guy Kowarsh who is also the CD’s producer. An extra bonus are guest appearances by trumpeters Frankie Bailey and Steve Roach (on one song apiece), percussionists Babatunde Lea and Brian Kendrick, and the synth strings of Jim Martinez which add a romantic mood to two numbers.

The three originals by Martine Tabilio have a vintage feel to them, ranging from the happy swing tune “Wish I May” and the sensual “Comes The Fall” to the dark film noirish “No Rhyme Or Reason.” Another fairly new song, Royce Campbell’s “I’m On A Cloud,” has close interaction by Beth Duncan with the flute of Mike McMullen and guitar of Steve Homan. (An original soli within "I'm On A Cloud" was composed by Homan)

The standards fare very well and contain their share of surprises. The bop anthem “How High The Moon” has a unique beginning, starting out as a vocal/congas duet with Babatunde Lea. “Moon River,” just one chorus long, has a spontaneous and emotional vocal with accompaniment just by Homan’s guitar. “I Thought About You” and “Almost Like Being In Love” are taken as swingers while “Quiet Nights” and “Give Me The Simple Life” (which has some spectacular trumpet from Frankie Bailey) give the singer a chance to vocalize on sambas. “Embraceable You” (a duet with bassist Douglass) and a quietly passionate “If You Could See Now” display Beth Duncan’s expertise on ballads.

One of the most surprising performances on the CD is a reworking of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.” Steve Homan recast the piece in 5/4 time. Concluding the set is an infectious and optimistic version of “Wish Me A Rainbow.”

Throughout Comes The Fall, even with all of the variety and surprises, Beth Duncan sounds relaxed, swings at all tempos, and is quite expressive. This is her finest recording so far.

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Swing, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76