Praise for “Little Jazz Bird”

by Edward Blanco

Kansas City native and songbird Megan Birdsall is one of the many young ladies of jazz with a gift for song. This “Little Jazz Bird” celebrates a triumph of will and faith after a heart-wrenching battle with a degenerative arthritic jaw condition that threatened her career and life. The album is a dedication to the vibrant KC jazz community that came to her financial help in her hour of need. Birdsall’s music on this sophomore effort, explores contemporary traditional jazz voicing uncommon standards and providing fresh new interpretations using her soulful velvet vocals to swing the lyrics.

The program starts out with the lively up-tempo burner, “Is You Is” where the lady displaying a good measure of romp aided and abetted by Bill Caldwell’s sizzling saxophone. Bassist Bob Bowman shares the lead with Birdsall delivering a splendid solo on “Born to Be Blue” while the singer provides a tender performance on the slow and cushy ballad of “Little Girl Blue,” singing the lyrics as if the song were about her. Mike Melvoin also weighs in here with a tasteful piano run.

The other pianist playing here, Paul Smith, introduces the jazzy “Sleepin’ Bee,” a number where Birdsall’s powerful vocals are well accompanied by solo spurts from the saxophonist and bassist in one of the finer pieces here. Birdsall and band let it all hang out on the fast-paced title tune featuring the lady’s reaching vocals and Caldwell’s torrid sax phrasings. The repertoire ends with the exciting teaser, “My Old Flame” capping off one fine session of jazz vocals.

Also playing on this recording are drummer Tim Cambron and Mike Metheny on the E.V. I. With so many jazz vocal albums being recorded and released, jazz audiences have a large selection of darn good jazz to select from. Megan Birdsall’s “Little Jazz Bird” is one of the better jazz vocals recordings that’s currently out there. Possessing a sexy velvet voice, this jazz bird sings her heart out here with the aide of excellent musical support from the Kansas City boys. Well done!

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