Molly Johnson: Lucky

Album cover art for upc 602517860148
Label: A440
Catalog: 0251786014
Format: CD

Molly Johnson - voice
with: Phil Dwyer - saxophone and piano; Mark McLean and Ben Riley - drums; Mike Downes - bass

Whatever Lola Wants; I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good; Lush Life; If I Were A Bell; Ode To Billie Joe; Solitude; Lucky; It Ain't Necessarily So; I Loves You Porgy; Mean To Me; Willow Weep For Me; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You; I'll Never Smile Again; It Ain't Necessarily So (Reprise)

Juno Award Winner 2009 - Vocal Jazz Album of the Year
By saying that Molly Johnson knows all the other idioms of popular music today, one might nearly lose sight of the fact that she is a jazz singer. Here she is coming home again, with a dozen major standards: compositions by the greatest jazzmen, tunes from musical comedy that have become playing fields for the great voices, but also a few surprises which say quite a bit about the taste and the sense of humour of this beautiful Canadian woman of mixed race origins. Behind her, with her, around her, is her stage trio, which is now reaching the summits… to the point in fact that it plays four parts, since pianist Phil Dwyer also takes over the tenor saxophone. Let us follow her in her exploration of the most enchanted repertoire in jazz…

Wholenote Review
Two discs with similar offerings — standards played with traditional jazz treatments and instrumentation (no djembe or oud here) and straight forward vocal interpretations — round out the latest batch of releases. First is Molly Johnson’s Lucky (Universal 0251786014). Johnson is a popular singer in Toronto not only for her performances but also her fundraising work and, lately, radio hosting on CBC 2. Her mature, chesty voice imbues the songs on “Lucky” with a world-weariness that makes Lush Life and I Loves You Porgy utterly believable. While swingy, up-tempo treatments — courtesy of backing trio Phil Dwyer, piano and sax, Mike Downes, bass, and Mark McLean/Ben Riley, drums — take the normally sombre Mean to Me and Ode to Billie Joe (which could be renamed Ode to Killer Joe for the debt the arrangement owes to that song) to new, light-hearted places. Cathy Riches

Price: $12.98