Album Review: It’s Alright With Me from Liz Terrell
Album: It’s Alright With Me
Artist: Liz Terrell
Label: Westmont Records
The rich sonorous of Liz Terrell’s vocals make listeners turn their heads in her direction. Her 2022 release It’s Alright With Me is a compilation of classic pop and jazz standards that she treats with her distinctive stylizing. A stylizing that audiences will relate to the soulful inflections of Thelma Houston and the arresting luster of torchlight crooner Nina Simone, augmented by a dreamy, bluesy vocalese that lingers in the mind long after the recording comes to a close.
Her treatment of Cole Porter’s trademark melody “Night and Day” highlights the swing jazz elements of the track, turning the balladry verses into a simmering burner with bopping traction. Her phrasing adjusts to the soars and inclines along the chord movements, as though knowing when to emphasize a lyric and when to let her resonance drift off. Her vocal inflections certainly heighten the listening experience.
Her choice to perform Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” is a wise one, providing a platform to bring out the sultry textures of her timbres. Her affinity for the track comes through to listeners, making them equally enamored of the tune. Shifting to the classic pop embers of Cyndi Lauper’s fan favorite “Time After Time,” Terrell hitches a soft spring in the chassis of the reflective atmosphere that lifts the music to a dreamy ether.
The catchy bopping beats of Fats Waller’s ragtime swelter “Ain’t Misbehavin'” emanates a modern jazz iridescence. As Terrell moves deeper into the Waller medley, she follows up with the nocturnal serenade “The Jitterbug Waltz” that features a glistening piano vamp and a striking drum solo that segues into Waller’s boogie woopie/jive staple “Honeysuckle Rose,” making for a memorable delivery.
Her rendering of Elvis Costello’s somber aria “Almost Blue” sees her accompanied by pianist Daniel Clarke. The sparseness of the performance brims with a magnetism that pulls at the listener’s emotions, affecting them deeply as she grapples inwardly, “There’s a part of me that’s always true…always / Not all good things come to an end / now it is only a chosen few / I’ve seen such an unhappy couple / Almost me / Almost you / Almost blue.”
Terrell sings with clear articulation, demonstrating an attachment to the lyrics that allows audiences to comprehend her bond to these songs, and inspiring them to bond with the songs as well. Broadly proficient in musical theater, cabaret and performing in a gospel ensemble, Liz Terrell’s vocal variation turns heads in her direction. She has not only arrived, she has chiseled a permanent place for herself in the soul jazz spectrum.
Liz Terrell – vocals
Daniel Clarke – piano
Chris Brydge – bass
Emre Kartari – drums
Alan Parker – guitar
Eddie Williams – saxophone