This is one of those albums that had to be made, and we should all be grateful to Rebecca Hardiman for doing it. Words cannot adequately describe the greatness of Ella Fitzgerald. So one might say that it takes a superlative singer to walk in the musical shadow of the First Lady of Song. Thankfully, Rebecca does it with class and on her own terms. Working with a trio of Ray Hardiman (piano), Whitney Moulton (bass), and Kurt Deutscher (drums), Rebecca uses her formidable jazz chops to honor Ella without ever trying to “do Ella.” In simpler terms, this is a joyous Rebecca Hardiman CD on which she happens to perform ten tunes associated with Ella Fitzgerald. They range from oldies like “A Tisket, A Tasket” and “Honeysuckle Rose” to standards such as “Cheek To Cheek,” “Manhattan,” “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” and “Someone To Watch Over Me.” She even takes on an “Ella anthem” with her very own delivery of the jazz classic “How High the Moon.” Rebecca is very comfortable with a touch of scat here and there, often one of the true tests of a jazz singer. And Rebecca Hardiman is just that! I would submit that she knows no other way. Her tribute to Ella, a goddess of American song, is filled with swinging, groovy reverence and, from note one, superb musicianship. George Fendel KMHD Jazz Radio Host & Jazz Society of Oregon CD Reviewer.
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, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
Her brand new CD shows her to be very comfortable with her choice of standout tunes. 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.
JazzSociety of Oregon CD Reviewer
“I first heard Rebecca Hardiman in September 2014. She was accompanied by pianist, Tommy James, Musical Director of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Struck immediately by her sound, energy and delivery, I promptly committed to informing others. Lovers of Jazz vocalists in particular will no doubt recognize her clarity, tone and sense of style which is matched by her respect for the lyrics and dignified delivery. Scatting with the ease and swiftness reminiscent of Ella, Anita and Mel Torme is enough to make you join the growing number of instant fans who already recognize that she is a welcome asset to the world of Jazz.”
Marcia K. Hocker
PDX Jazz Festival Board Member
Education Coordinator for the Incredible Journey of Jazz
"There is a reality and purity in Rebecca's voice, no gimmicks, the way jazz vocalists used to be..."
Art Abrams - Band Leader