PERFORMER: Robin McKelle (vocals), Ray Herrmann, Pete Christlieb (saxes), Wayne Bergeron, Willie Murillo (trumpet), Larry Koonse (guitar), Quinn Johnson (piano), Reggie McBride (bass), Bernie Dresel (drums).
CATALOGUE NO: CCD 79996
‘Retro-swing’ is the term coined by Candid to describe Robin McKelle’s vocal styling. Indeed, McKelle does sound like a middle-period Ella Fitzgerald taking time out of a 1950s ‘Songbook’ session.
She has captured Fitzgerald’s alto voice perfectly, right down to the hollered choruses. Even her chosen material comprises era correct Tin Pan Alley tunes such as ‘Night and Day’, mixed with less well known chestnuts such as the Andrews Sisters’s ‘Bei mir bist du schon’.
To complete the retro-swing sound Candid assembled a brassy big band and McKelle responds like her muse, with perfect intonation. This is a terrific debut that will go down well with the dance band diehards. But the brain behind that Berklee bred voice has other influences.
I’m betting that what comes next will be less Ella and more McKelle. Garry Booth