Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Melissa Morgan is a newcomer with an old-school pedigree. Her earliest exposure to music growing up in New Jersey were the great jazz voices she heard on old LPs - Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson.
Down Beat (p.83) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Tough, sassy and superlative, Melissa Morgan goes for something stronger and more potent on her Telarc debut."
JazzTimes (p.84) - "[S]he succeeds admirably, thanks not only to her own mellifluous richness but also to a formidable rhythm section led by pianist Gerald Clayton and various assemblages of horns, including trumpeter Christian Scott on three tracks."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.91) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[Her] smoky vocal timbre recalls Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. UNTIL I MET YOU is a mightily impressive debut..."
Personnel: Melissa Morgan (vocals); Randy Napoleon (guitar); Ben Wendel (tenor saxophone, horns); Francisco Torres (trombone, horns); Gerald Clayton (piano); Joe Sanders (upright bass); Kevin Kannar (drums).
Audio Mixer: Don Murray .
Audio Remasterer: Doug Sax.
Recording information: Castle Oaks Studios, Calabasas, CA.
Editor: Seth Presant.
Photographer: Devin DeHaven.
Arrangers: Francisco Torres; Gerald Clayton; Ben Wendel.
Many jazz critics have gotten rather cynical hearing new CDs by unfamiliar female vocalists, since there seems to be a disproportionate number of them and far too many are not worth hearing. Fortunately, Melissa Morgan's debut for Telarc exudes both confidence and skill in her interpretations of both standards and rarely heard gems, backed by a strong, young rhythm section anchored by pianist Gerald Clayton and guitarist Randy Napoleon. Her insistent take of Louis Jordan's "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" pulses with energy, then she follows it up with a delightfully swinging and expressive take of "Until I Met You" (a vocal version of "Corner Pocket," which rhythm guitarist Freddie Green wrote for Count Basie), featuring a crisp understated solo by rising young trumpeter Christian Scott in a potent chart by trombonist Francisco Torres, who also appears on the track. Morgan's sassy take of the blues "Cool Cool Daddy" is equally convincing. As for standards, take your pick: Morgan's bluesy, slowly savored treatment of "The More I See You" and playful, expressive interpretation of "A Sleepin' Bee" bring new life to these old chestnuts. This is an encouraging beginning for Melissa Morgan. ~ Ken Dryden