No Looking Back (JD91)

  1. The Song Is You
  2. I Cover The Waterfront
  3. Speak Low
  4. Easy To Love
  5. Ballad Medley
  6. A Sunday In New York
  7. It's Alright With Me
  8. Isn't It a Pity?
  9. Make Me Rainbows
  10. Come Fly With Me

If justice had prevailed, No Looking Back would have made LaVerne Butler well known in jazz circles, but this fine debut was more of an artistic success than a commercial one. In contrast to the laidback, relaxed mood and pop influences that defined the singer's sophomore effort, Day Dreamin', No Looking Back is very much a hardcore bop effort. Butler's impressive phrasing sounds like a combination of Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, but when she passionately tears into hard-swinging, high-energy interpretations of "It's Alright With Me," "Sunday In New York" and "The Song Is You," it's clear that Butler is very much her own person. Equally captivating are a sensuous bossa nova take on "Speak Low" and an unexpected version of "Come Fly With Me," which was defined by Frank Sinatra but also fares quite well in Butler's capable hands. Guest Joe Henderson (tenor sax) is in excellent form on "I Cover the Waterfront," "Easy to Love" and "The Song Is You," all of which prove that the ton of favorable publicity he was receiving in the early to mid-1990s was well deserved. This is a CD that fans of straight-ahead jazz singing should make a point of searching for.

Review by Alex Henderson,