Cynthia Felton has returned with a brand new album, bringing her voice into the studio to record a new album that is a great display of her talents as an artist and arranger. Freedom Jazz Dance (Felton Entertainment) has her choosing a great selection of songs that allow these songs to live and be vibrant today, at a time that perhaps it is sorely needed. When you hear her sing “My Funny Valentine”, “Take 5″, the powerful “Nature Boy”, and “What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life”, one realizes what is missing in… well, I was going to say in “a lot of today’s music” but that would mean I speak only in a mainstream context. I guess there’s a desire in me for music that’s heartfelt to be heard by more people outside of the target audience of this music, because what’s missing is heart, soul, and to a greater extent, musicality. I know people used to mock En Vogue and only know/understand them for their looks, but they each had individual voices that shined. I believe I’ve compared Felton to Terry Ellis before, and I still hear that charm that they both share, but what I also hear is that passion to make music and be heard. It is not an extension of who they are, it IS who they are, they are at one with music, and Felton is someone who does it with so much class… I think if I were to enter a venue or dinner club, see her performing, I’d want to listen to her all night. Come back the next night, hear her again. These are not just note-by-note interpretations of material from jazz and pop songbooks, she adds qualities that show how much she is in tune with the meaning of these songs but wants to make people believe she is the one who wrote them. If someone hears her version of “Nature Boy” for the first time and it makes them believe it was Felton who came up with the story told, she has won.
The album doesn’t give credits for where the music was recorded, but the credits state her vocals, along with the final mix of the album, was put together at Capitol Records. There’s knowledge that there was once magic created in those rooms in Hollywood, so why not go to the source? In fact, when she performs a cover of the Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill composition “Lost In The Stars”, she does it almost as homage to what jazz is by recording it in a room that became known for an incredible amount of music. There’s a moment in her performance that sounds a lot like Stevie Wonder, and it’s “chicken skin” inducing. It is almost as if Felton thought “let’s bring this song back into this room, as it would be nice to do so here.”
You don’t have to be a deep jazz fan to enjoy this. If you enjoy a classic pop sensibility, or the power of the human voice, get this.