So many times, in the jazz genre, female composers are overlooked if they are also singers. There is merit to a crafted, well-honed lyric, something the general populous can connect with conveying the story within the melody and easing a suffering heart or adding an accent to a joyous occasion. Going through this moment in time with the COVID-19 pandemic, this truth is never more evident. Enter Jenny Davis, based in the Pacific Northwest, Rearranged, is Davis’ fourth album as a leader. This time around, it is her compositions that take center stage, with nine original pieces and two well-chosen nuggets “And What If I Don’t” (Herbie Hancock) and “Invitation,” (Bronislau Kaper). The album is rounded out with an all-star cast, including three-time Grammy-nominated, Seattle-based Brazilian musician, Jovino Santos Neto, on piano.
Positives: Davis has a depth to her writing; her vocal delivery is skilled with a warming tone that endears the listener to pay attention and absorb her message.
Bottom Line: Davis compositions focus on the expanse of human subjects, “Aceptar,” is given a Latin treatment with a romantic lyric of devotion with an emotion of ataraxia and beauty. “And What If I Don’t,” a Herbie Hancock tune, offers a cheekiness, and Davis delivers the song with wit and playfulness with an angularity that is carried forward with Neto’s solo note choices. Of note is “Come With Me” (featured in October 2019 on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series). Davis is joined in harmony with Vanessa Littrell, the two blend with an incontrovertible refinement. The album offers a suite on “Yeoman Warders” there are three movements for jazz saxophone quartet. The first expressing a tenderness of innocence, with the second section unfolding into a minor blues section, that emotes are more aggressive representative of the confusions of society. Giving way to a third section that evokes a protective mother and the forbearance she can bring with a strength, reminiscent of the complexity of Mingus from textural and colorization of writing style. Each track has its own story and luminescence. I encourage you to take the journey and find your apologue within Rearranged. That’s the short of it!