07 Jami TMPletonThe Shape of My Heart
Jami Templeton; Andy Langham; Edwin Livingston; Charles Ruggiero; Joel Frahm
Independent (jamitempleton.bandcamp.com) 

Los Angeles-based classically trained jazz vocalist Jami Templeton has a story to tell, and through the eclectic and emotional nature of her new recording, her story leads the listener through an auditory banquet of diverse material from the worlds of country, pop, rock, musical theatre and the Great American Song Book. Templeton’s voice is compelling, moving and a delight to the ear. Skilled producer Andy Langham also performs here on piano and melodica, along with first call L.A. musicians Edwin Livingston on bass, Charles Ruggiero on drums and the masterful Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone.  

First up is Willie Nelson’s moving country ballad, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, rendered here with a swoon-worthy romantic treatment, as Langham expressively uses innovative chord substitutions and technical skill to bring forth every last drop of empathy. Templeton’s voice is sumptuous, controlled and pitch perfect – reminiscent of (and technically superior to) Julie London, Chris Connor or Joanie James – perfectly capturing the mood of the arrangement.

Also of note is a singular, creative interpretation of Sting’s Shape of my Heart, in which Templeton’s evocative voice and Sting’s melancholy/dystopic vision are perfectly underscored by strong arco bass lines, fine drumming and the sonic treat of Langham’s melodica. Of rare beauty is Templeton’s take on Tom Petty’s Room at the Top. Her warm, mezzo voice is diaphanous and haunting, and also intuitively rhythmic, with a profound jazz sensibility. David Mann’s 1950’s cinema noir-ish ballad, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning is a total standout, replete with Ruggiero’s sensitive use of mallets, the thrilling coalescence of the trio, and the brilliant lyric, which all join together as one, wrapping themselves around Templeton’s balmy, knowing, lovely pipes.

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