by Constance Tucker
There is something timeless when a jazz chanteuse releases an album, the portrayal of a classic unaffected presentation that offers a luster of authenticity, enter Lois Bruno. Not a household name, but certainly one that should be. Even though not in the Starlet spotlight, Bruno certainly has enjoyed a long and successful career in music, having performed with many notable musicians including, George Cables, Billy Cobham, and Bill Mobley, she is also no stranger to the recording studio, having worked on a number of “Sung Like the Artist” recordings. Early in her career, she caught the ear of DJ superstar, Casey Kasem, who introduced her to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss of A&M Records.
Now, for the first time, turning the spotlight on her varied musical aptitudes, her debut release is born, And So It Begins. A hand-picked collection of her favorite songs. From country classics like “Always on My Mind,” reimagined for the jazz idiom in an easy-going ballad with shimmering brushed drums and a weathered voice that is a beacon of truth. Like Nelson, Bruno has an authentic connection with the lyrics and delivers the longing vocals with the essence of living the truth. Saxophonist Kenny Shanker lends a brief solo that also highlights a dry, focused tone, lending to the charm of the track.
I have always loved the tune for “Love For Sale.” Bruno approaches it as an up-tempo Latin style. What is so appealing about Bruno’s voice is the matter of fact way she connects the listen to the story. Shanker is on fire on this tune. His tone is warm and savory. Bassist Yoshi Waki and drummer Brian Fishler dig in for a swinging solo section, add a textural change from Latin to swing adds interest to the propulsion of the arrangement. Pianist Mike Eckroth is excellent, his buoyancy on the ivories is exciting at every turn. His rhythm is also excellent in the Latin sections of the tune. “Love For Sale,” is giving a rousing treatment that lingers long past the listen.
“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, the masters of many American songbook classics are well represented by Bruno on this cut. Though it’s never proper to ask a lady their age, Bruno has been actively performing since the 60s in the Catskills to the Rainbow Room from small Brooklyn clubs to large festivals. This veritableness is on full display, especially on the songbook cuts.
A tasty offering, similar to listening to an old Billie Holiday album in the wee hours of the night, maybe while studying or unwinding with your favorite cognac, Bruno has that after-hours appeal to her voice that fits. A welcomed debut by a seasoned veteran of performance and an aptly titled debut And So It Begins.