Personnel: Harry Allen (tenor saxophone); Rebecca Kilgore (vocals); Rossano Sportiello (piano); Chuck Riggs (drums).
Audio Mixers: Jim Czak; Bill Moss .
Liner Note Author: Will Friedwald.
Recording information: Feinstein's At Loews Regency Hotel, New York, NY (08/03/2010-08/04/2010).
Rebecca Kilgore's career has steadily climbed since she gained national exposure from her mid-'90s Arbors CD I Saw Stars, becoming a favorite of jazz parties and clubs around the U.S. For this engagement she joined forces with tenor saxophonist Harry Allen's quartet for a salute to Billie Holiday and Lester Young, recorded during two nights of their booking at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency in August 2010, with pianist Rosanno Sportiello, bassist Joel Forbes (who is a member of her regular quartet), and drummer Chuck Riggs. Fortunately, this is not the kind of tribute where the artists are interested in merely duplicating the recordings of jazz greats that they are honoring; instead, they put their own stamp on the songs that Lady Day and Prez recorded, while keeping their swinging, intimate feeling. After a quick run through "Your Mother's Son-in-Law" (an unremarkable piece that launched young Billie Holiday's career as she debuted on disc with Benny Goodman), she gets into the meat of the singer's discography with an effervescent setting of "Them There Eyes" and a lightly swinging "Foolin' Myself," in which Kilgore scats in unison with Allen's robust tenor. There are two instrumental features for Allen, a hard-blowing "Tickle Toe" and a gritty, brisk interpretation of "I Want to Be Happy." The Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn vehicle "I'm Checkin' Out Go-om Bye" has nothing to do with Holiday or Young, but proves to be a potent closing number, with a strong chorus by Allen and two choruses of masterful stride piano by Sportiello. Too few of Rebecca Kilgore's live performances have appeared on CD, and this rewarding disc will give jazz fans a better idea of her strengths in a club setting. ~ Ken Dryden