by Geannine Reid

Happy is the title of Lisa Maxwell’s sophomore release and it certainly is a Happy collection of well-chosen and not overdone standards, all presented and well supported by the Keith Ingram Quartet, who is Maxwell’s coach. The word breezy comes to mind when listening to Maxwell, and is a perfect entrée to the beautiful spring so many of us are feeling across the U.S. with record highs for March of 2012. Happy creates and relaxing moment to be enjoyed on your back patio with a cool drink in hand and friends to spare.

The singer’s recovery and comeback from a vocal cord disorder that sidelined her for several years earlier in the decade, leaves little to no traces of her traumatic experience. Instead she offers the listener an unadorned, focused timbre that delivers the lyric with honesty and ingratiates the listener to delve on further into her message, where they will not be disappointed with her performance.

The simplicity and elegance of Maxwell’s voice is framed equally by Ingram’s sensitive yet thoughtful accompaniment. Even on up-tempo cuts like, “I’ll Take Romance,” and “Under a Blanket of Blue,” the two adorn the cuts with grace and easy-going sophistication. Maxwell and Ingham amalgamate their ideas on the Teddy Randazzo/Bobby Weinstein classic pop tune “Goin’ Out of My Head,” not normally recognized as a jazz cut, Maxwell conveys and convincing reading of this famous tune made recognizable by Petula Clark’s and then Vicky Carr. Maxwell’s rendition is light samba that gives the cut a different yet respectful texture.
Maxwell is an accessible and easy to listen to jazz vocalist with a bit of that 60’s sound mixed in, reminiscent of easy listening – but jazz enough for a vocal jazz collection. Enjoy the listen; it truly is a wonderful introduction to a user-friendly collection.

Track Listing: I’ll Take Romance; You Can’t Lose a Broken Heart; Sunday in New York; The Folks Who Live on the Hill; It Might As Well Be Spring; Someone To Watch over Me; My Heart Goes with You; This Is Always; Going Out of My Head; Blue Moon; Under a Blanket of Blue; June Night; Skylark; A Wonderful Guy.
Personnel: Lisa Maxwell: vocals; Keith Ingham: piano; Frank Tate, bass; Al Gafa: guitar; Steve Little: drums; Ben Wittman: percussion.