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CD Reviews

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Collections Vol. 1

For Collections Vol. 1, Rebecca chose ten songs that she has loved for a long time, many of which she originally heard either in her father’s record collection or during high school or college. In addition to Ray Hardiman, a pianist who is equally skilled as a soloist and as a sensitive accompanist, she is joined by the solidly swinging bassist Whitney Moulton, the supportive drummer Kurt Deutscher (who gets to cut loose a bit on “It’s All Right With Me”) and, on some numbers, Laird Halling who contributes fine playing on alto, clarinet and flute.

 

The set begins with a brief and boppish version of “Too Marvelous For Words” that is inspired by trombonist Frank Rosolino’s joyful recording. A grandfather clock’s somber ringing sets the stage for an atmospheric “’Round Midnight” before Rebecca swings hard on “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” which is given a Latin tinge. A romantic “Moon River” has Rebecca hinting at a mix tone-wise of Doris Day and prime Anita O’Day while always sounding like herself. She scats her way through “Godchild” (from Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool recordings), adding the melody of “The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea” which has the same chord changes.

 

While Paul McCartney’s “Here, There And Everywhere” is associated with the Beatles, Rebecca first heard the pretty song performed by George Benson in the 1980s. Her warmth and inspired choice of notes on this and “Don’t Go To Strangers” are ballad singing at its best. The other performances include an infectious “Time After Time” (listen to how inventive her singing is during the second chorus), a rollicking “It’s All Right With Me” that is worthy of Ella, and a heartfelt version of “Alfie.”

 

Rebecca plans to record Collections, Vol. 2 and then a ballad album with strings. Beyond that, she has a special goal: “I hope to have at least one performance in every state; I’m up to six states so far.” So in the future, look for Rebecca Hardiman in a state near you! But for now, her wonderful recordings are evidence of her vocal brilliance.

 Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers and Jazz On Record 1917-76

Rain Sometimes

   "If Doris Day in the 1950s had been a jazz singer, could scat with the cool assurance of Anita O’Day, and expressed the happiness of Ella, she might have sounded a little like Rebecca Hardiman. Not that Ms. Hardiman sounds like a copy of anyone, but she fits very comfortably into the classic style. Her voice is attractive in all ranges, one can always understand the words she sings, her phrasing is inviting, and she swings at every tempo. A member of the top notch jazz vocal group the Ritz in the late 1980s, she settled in Oregon in 1990 and has been a local treasure ever since.

  “Rain Sometimes” is the singer’s fifth CD since 2013. Joined by her husband, the skilled pianist Ray Hardiman, bassist Craig Snazelle, drummer Ron Steen, and quite often Laird Halling on alto sax and flute, she performs ten standards, many of which are not sung all that often.

  The first two songs are among the most memorable “Look for the Silver Lining,” which effectively uses a vamp between choruses, immediately displays the beauty of Ms. Hardiman’s voice as she sings the melody and scats sweetly during the second chorus. Ray Hardiman (sounding like a vibraphonist on his keyboard) takes a fine solo before the song ends with laidback scatting over the vamp. “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” turns its title into reality with the piano chords being purposely played behind the pulse while Rebecca sings right on the beat, making the song sound out of balance. Things straighten up immediately during some swinging choruses (with a nice spot for Halling’s alto sax) before the piece ends as it started, pretending to search for the time!

  Among the other highlights are a happy romp through “No More Blues” (with Halling contributing some fine flute), the obscure Arthur Hamilton ballad “Rain Sometimes,” a joyful “The Things We Did Last Summer,” and a revival of “The Late, Late Show.” All ten selections have their bright moments.

  Rebecca Hardiman deserves to be much better known beyond the Pacific Northwest. Give “Rain Sometimes” a spin and see if you agree."

Scott Yanow, Jazz Journalist/Historian LA Jazztimes

Author of 11 books including “The Jazz Singers”

 

Honoring Ella-A 100th Birthday Tribute

"Since 2017 is the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth, there are many Ella tributes being planned this year. Rebecca Hardiman’s Honoring Ella is a particularly swinging and fun affair. Honoring Ella finds Ms. Hardiman capturing the sweetness, swinging phrasing, and infallible pitch of the First Lady of Song while also displaying her own musical personality.

Accompanied by pianist Ray Hardiman, bassist Whitney Moulton and drummer Kurt Deutscher on nine songs, Rebecca Hardiman is in prime form throughout. The set begins with Ella’s biggest hit, a version of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” that is given a Latin feel. “Manhattan,” which begins with the rarely-heard verse, features Ms. Hardiman taking a heartwarming vocal, and her voice sounds quietly expressive on “Isn’t It Romantic.” One cannot do a real Ella Fitzgerald tribute without including some scat-singing so there is some creative scatting on an uptempo “I Get A Kick Out Of You” and “Honeysuckle Rose” which is taken at a perfect slow-medium pace. The singer’s voice is particularly attractive on a slow version (complete with verse) of “Someone To Watch Over Me,” she has fun with the Brazilian groove on “Cheek To Cheek,” and also sounds rewarding on “Stairway To The Stars” and a cooking “How High The Moon.”

However the highpoint to the CD is the tenth and final performance. Rebecca Hardiman takes “You Turned The Tables On Me” as a duet with guest bassist Marty Ballou. While she mostly sticks to the lyrics, she is particularly inventive in her choice of notes and her phrasing.

Ella would have approved of and loved this recording!"

Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Times

 

Easy Living         

"From the first notes of this CD’s opener, “Thou Swell,” it is obvious that Rebecca Hardiman is a superior jazz singer. She has a clear and very appealing tone, it is very easy to understand every word that she interprets, and her singing is full of joy. In addition, she swings at all tempos and is a very good scat singer. There are times when she sounds a little bit like early Nancy Wilson but she is a more adventurous and harder-swinging vocalist If I had to come up with a criticism about her singing, I would be at a loss for words.
 On Easy Living, Rebecca Hardiman is joined by some of the top straight ahead jazz musicians from the Pacific Northwest. Her husband Ray Hardiman is a perfect accompanist and a strong soloist, bassist Dan Presley and drummer Ron Steen provide tasteful support and there are plenty of colorful bop-oriented solos taken along the way by trumpeter/flugelhornist Bryant Allard and saxophonist/clarinetist Laird Halling.
  After the exciting version of “Thou Swell” which includes a hot trumpet-alto tradeoff and a fine piano solo, “Give Me The Simple Life” is given an exuberant treatment, highlighted by Ms. Hardiman’s exchange of phrases with trumpeter Allard. Her medium-tempo version of “Easy Living” could be used in a classroom to teach other singers how to make a ballad their own. When she changes the notes of a melody, it adds to the emotional effect and the general excitement.
 Each of the 14 songs other than “Harold’s House Of Jazz” (which is based on “Cherokee”) are veteran standards. All benefit from these treatments. Among the other highlights are one of the finest versions of Gil Evans’ “Boplicity” ever recorded (the scat-singing is inspired yet sounds effortless), the revival of “Harold House of Jazz” (which was recorded previously by Richie Cole), a swinging “Put on a Happy Face” and a jubilant “They All Laughed.”   Rebecca Hardiman’s Easy Living is one of the most delightful jazz vocal albums of the past year and is highly recommended.                                                                                                                                                                           

Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Times

Easy Living

"Rebecca's CD shows her to be very comfortable with her choice of standout tune .  As any real jazz singer should do, Hardiman delivers 14 tunes without pretense or too much frosting on the cake. She scats with ease and perfect clarity. Just check out the challenging “Boplicity” for proof.  In that same realm is “Harold’s House Of Jazz”, a Richie Cole rarity that strikes a tempo fast enough to test any singer. Hardiman passes with flying colors.  Among the other dozen tunes, all of which are winners, there’s “Thou Swell,” “Mountain Greenery,” “I Wished on the Moon,” “They All Laughed,” and more. Hardiman is accompanied by her husband, Ray Hardiman on piano; Dan Presley, bass; Ron Steen, drums; and special kudos to Bryant Allard on trumpet and flugelhorn and to Laird Halling on sax and clarinet.
A measuring stick for singers (in my opinion at least) is their ability to sound like it’s all so easy when we know it’s anything but ! Rebecca Hardiman is such a singer, and you’re going to love her new album." 

 George Fendel - CD Reviewer for JazzScene Magazine -  Portland OR