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Lorez Alexandria: Deep Roots

Lorez Alexandria 1962 Deep_RootsLorez Alexandria 1962 Deep_Roots
Lorez Alexandria: Deep Roots
(1962 Argo LP 694)

Wow this album was a pleasant surprise! I had no prior knowledge of Lorez Alexandria until now. I knew the tracks were mostly vocal standards and decided to purchase. Once home I was fully engaged I could tell that she had influenced modern artist with her style and presentation. Since I am a vocal jazz lover it was like she had mentored the likes of Jane Monheit and Eva Cassidy. "Detour Ahead" by Eva Cassidy probably got its roots from Lorez's rendering. Now that I have been formally introduced to I will be on the lookout for more albums by Mrs. Alexandria

Side 1:
Nature Boy
I Was A Fool
No Moon At All
Spring Will Be A Little Late The Year
Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

Side 2:
Detour Ahead
It Could Happen To You
Travlin Light
Almost Like Being In Love
I Want To Talk About You

Original Liner Notes:
by Jimmy Lyons of KFRC in San Francisco

My Predecessors here, on the informative side of a Lorez Alexanria album jacket have been much more professionally qualified than I, in passing musical judgment on the engraved image within; and much more informative.

Both Miss Gardener and Mr. Gleason are known for their knowledgeable critiques and essays on jazz and popular music. So, when Lorez asked me to write these notes just a couple weeks after I had meet her, I hastened back to the enjoyable Argo LP663 and Argo LP682 in the Argo catalog to read the Gardener-Gleason enlightenment.

Then it became apparent that the one word I have thought and felt about Lorez singing these past six or seven recording years was the essence of Gs and Ralph Gs annotations. They both refer to the freshness and creativity of her singing. Perhaps, that's why I've enjoyed hearing her on record these past few years, since I have yet to hear her in person. Perhaps her creativity, and surely her warm, articulate voice uncultured by trickery, have contributed to my increasing enjoyment of her records.

Most of all, I enjoy Lorez because she sings like Lorez.
I'm getting kind of sick of the increasing flood of new albums by young girl vocalists -those plaster fo Paris copies of the originals with all the warmth and expression of ice cubes.

In her warm uncomplicated way, Lorez moves from the slowest ballad to the brightest swinger with amazing facility. She seems to tailor the tones of her voice to fit the pace, mood storyline, and especially the words of a song. It is here, in what I guess they call interpretation of a song that I find my biggest king in listening to Lorez. Take "Travelin Light" How many singers try to phrase it like Billie Holiday did? Now listen to Lorez sing it. Here, the opening and tag to the tune are as attestingly refreshing as anything I've heard in a long, long time. For crying out softly, this is as plaintive a treatment as the Mundy classic can get. The mood of the other ballads in here cries just as tenderly. That fragile little lament "Spring" Lorez handles so gently, you get a feeling that she is scared, and it'll shatter if dropped. And in "Detour Ahead" she warns of it like you'd have to go clear back, through and around Upper Nowhere to get back to the main drag. The same clarity of voice and lyric interpretation prevails in Johnny Pate's "I Was A Fool" and Billy Eckstine's "I Want To Talk About You." Throughout these tracks, John Young's kind of crystalline piano seems as though it's every airs to encrust Lorez's warm lovely voice with scatters of diamond chips. Isreal Crosby's bass, Vernel Fournier's drums, and Geroge Eskridge's guitar are plumping up the velvet pillows to catch the gems. It's probably the way Lores sings the words "crazy mood I'm in" in "Almost like Being in Love" that prompted the above, but I don't care, as she evokes odd little pictures like that when I hear these tracks. Luckily I don't write for a living, and radio is so evanescent, that you can get away with random vagaries like that, now and then. There's a lot of fun ahead for your in the nice, easy, loose, up-tempo "Softly", "No Moon At All", and "It Can Happen". There's a paucity of notes in her treatment of "Moon" and then she gets that playful, childlike glean in her voice as she romps along merrily with Howard McGhee in "It Could Happen" -and it does. As for "Nature Boy," he's quite a changed personality since Nat first covered him years ago.

Almost every time I've played on of Lorez's tracks over the past few years I've said that I hoped that someday she would get out to the coast so we could hear her in person, never realizing when that someday would be. Well, it happened not long ago when Carmen MacRae was at the Blackhawk in San Francisco. I'm a big Carmen MacRae fan and she was a tremendous hit last year at the Monterey Jazz Festival. One recent night, Carmen introduced Lorez from the stage, and after the set and the initial shock was over, I went up to Lorez and introduced myself. The following day she came over to KFRC for a twenty minute interview and those are the only times I've seen or talked to her.

About seven years ago I get her first album, listened, called the all-knowing Ralph Gleason at home, and launched into a small rave. All-knowingly, he said he know how find Lorez sang, that she was a REAL jazz singer, and she deserved more plays on the air that she was getting, I agreed. I still do. In our format of good sounds here on KFRC in San Francisco all of the guys dig Lorez and so do our listeners. That's a nice combination.


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