Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Jazz Performer Robin McKelle performs with her band: Alain Mallet - Piano, Peter Slavov - Bass and Jeremy Clemons - Drums. Her influences are Ella, Sarah, Frank Sinatra, Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan,Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Miles, Coltrane, Dianne Reeves, Nina Simone, Pat Metheny, Jaco, Ledisi, Jill Scott, and so on and so forth.... Sounds Like Robin has her own unique sound influenced by many different musicians in many different styles. Her soul infused alto voice is compared to jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. Robin's fresh approach to the vintage sound of the american songbook have sparked audiences around the world.
"Robin McKelle knows fine ways to treat a song. Once again, as in her debut Introducing Robin McKelle (Cheap Lullaby, 2006), her vocal ability and flexibility sparkles as she sings, scats and swings with a big band behind her. This time, however, she shows more rhythm and blues touches and also captures an old-fashioned torch song delivery in her treatment of mostly standard material.
McKelle has a wonderfully rich assortment of qualities in her voice. She is able to belt, be bluesy or croon a ballad. But one thing that distinguishes her is an ability to float over the really big sound behind her without getting lost in it and never letting listeners forget that this is a vocal album.
This collection of American Songbook classics is instrumentally treated in two ways: swinging and upbeat with lots of brass or ballads softened by a full string section. Most of the arrangements were done by Willie Murillo whose trademark usually includes a tight brass section. Murillo, one of the producers of the CD, can also be heard on trumpet for several of the tracks.
Notable among the tracks is the opener, a finger-snapping version of Steve Miller's '70s rock classic "Abracadabra." Then there's "Lullaby of Birdland," where McKelle takes risks slipping and sliding around the melody; "Make Someone Happy," where she simply tells the story aided by some tasty muted trumpet work by Joe Magnarelli; and"Go To Hell," a 6/8-tempo rouser with hints of Aretha Franklin. There is even an original, "Remember," where McKelle accompanies herself on piano." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (p.85) - "For fans of gorgeous standards lovingly nestled in ideal settings and sung with impeccable beauty and style, MODERN ANTIQUES is essential listening."
Personnel: Robin McKelle (vocals, piano).
Audio Mixer: Bryan Cook.
Arrangers: Chris Barron ; Willie Murillo; Gordon Goodwin; Alain Mallet; Randy Waldman.
Robin McKelle is a California based singer who enjoys the big-band sound, as well as old-time singers like Peggy Lee and Dinah Washington, reflective in her voice. She has a slightly sultry, at times girlish sound that is striving for vintage sophistication, but also relies on contemporary song stylist precepts. She's not Norah Jones, Diana Krall, or Joni Mitchell by a long shot, and not trying to be. She sounds quite similar to Detroit based vocalist Kathy Kosins in her phrasing and affectations. The problem with this recording, her third, is that it is way overproduced, not in a contemporary synthesizer soaked way, for all of the arrangements are acoustically derived. But the rather large horn section and strings dominate this stylized singer on too many occasions. It will be good someday to hear her with a much smaller ensemble, but meanwhile, you have a fairly good representation of what McKelle sounds like doing a Las Vegas type show set. The program starts off smart enough with of a swinging and rousing version of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra," with McKelle tossing in some good scat singing. A montuno/Afro-Cuban take of "Comes Love" shows the sexy influence of Lee, while the slight contemporary light rock beat tacked on to "I Want to Be Loved" is a popular concession, but the orchestration drenches this tune. Veteran tenor saxophone soloist Pete Christlieb shines on the string infused easy swinger "Cheek to Cheek," while flugelhorn and trumpet guest Joe Magnarelli is strong and supple for the breezy "Day by Day" and stands out during the very complementary chart of "Make Someone Happy." McKelle scats again and quite effectively for "Lullaby of Birdland" with interesting staggered phrasings above a less orchestrated backdrop -- a good thing for her. She also plays piano while singing on her original, the closer "Remember," a pop ballad with strings and laden with the otherwise tasteful guitarist Larry Kuhns. This band has some other good players like trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, saxophonists Bob Shepard or Andy Snitzer, and bassist Reggie McBride, but their individualism is all but smothered. This CD will appeal to a certain audience, but there's nothing new or innovative, save the occasional vocal excursions of the clearly talented McKelle. ~ Michael G. Nastos