The easy chair

Jazz vocals can grate on folks. I have a few relations who simply cannot stand the affectations and formal phrasing--not to mention the odd way that the music can be subjugated to the vocals. I mean, jazz should cook, right?

Miss Sophie Lee & the Parish Suites
Traverse This Universe

I don't generally agree with those characterizations (Ella and a scotch is a fine way to spend an evening), but I understand the point. Miss Sophie Lee does as well. It helps that she's based in New Orleans, which despite being the birthplace of Wynton Marsalis (the biggest jazz prig in the world) has never taken music too terribly seriously. After all, music is just life. And life is a party.

I know, there are those in New Orleans who have entombed various styles of jazz. But the spirit of cross-cultural experimentation and always finding a way to have fun is what allowed jazz to be born in New Orleans, and that's the spirit that flows through this album.

Miss Sophie Lee has a fine combo behind her, one that features electric organ and fiddle as well as more traditional acoustic jazz ensemble elements. This versatility allows her to flow western swing, Caribbean rhythms and folk into a vaguely old-timey jazz feel. The result is a bright, expansive album that never fails to bring a smile.

With one of the easiest deliveries I've ever heard, Miss Sophie Lee drawls out her songs in an effortless style. Her easy touch on these songs makes this an extraordinarily accessible album. I'd call it jazz for those who didn't know they liked jazz, except that folks who like jazz will also fall in love. A sumptuous feast.

Jon Worley

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