It has been a long road for vocalist Cynthia Layne’s career, but now she has found her voice and reached her musical goal with a new CD release, Reality. For some time, defining where Layne’s vocal style fit was a blur. She has covered pop tunes, sung R&B, scatted on jazz and can get down in a funk groove. She has even sung the Great American Songbook brilliantly in front of the challenging arrangements of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. As she says, there is no classifying her style. “I don’t like to put myself into any kind of category; I love all kinds of music. I am just to be considered a vocalist who is versatile and has style with jazz influences as well as R&B and pop influences.” Her voice has been described as soulful and passionate and she feels it shows in her musical performances of rhythm and blues. She admits that is where her musical core is — with strong jazz undertones.
Her vocal influences are as diverse as the music she performs.
“As a kid, some I listened to were Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and I loved Natalie Cole. Some of the more modern day singers, I loved Dee Dee Bridgewater. I saw her and she was very inspiring. Nnenna Freelon … she is really great along with Tina Maria.”
Reality is more than just another CD release for Layne. “It’s the first opportunity I have had to do a lot of writing lyrically so the songs are all based on personal experiences. It was my being able to go down deep within myself and experience who I am as far as love goes. From a woman’s perspective the songs tell quite a story.”
Recording Reality, Layne says, has defined her voice and sound. She speaks passionately about who Reality should appeal to. “The tunes cover a lot of different ground … there’s the jazz flavor in it. There is a tune called ‘The Promise’ that has a country type of soul in it. The music on this CD should appeal to everyone. It crosses the age, color and styles of music.”
Layne is right on target about the music, with highly sympathetic arrangements and musical support from co-producers Rob Dixon’s saxophone and Reggie Bishop’s keyboards, Konosh Lismon on bass and Kenny Phelps on drums, David Allee’s muted trumpet and backup vocals from Traci Lismon and Ryan Frazier on three tracks. The original nine tunes and two familiar melodies, “What You Won’t Do For Love” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” showcase innovative arrangements on all 11 tracks — including techno music effects on Rob Dixon’s original “Starry Night.”
There will be a CD release party Thursday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. at the Red Room in Broad Ripple. Reality will be available in stores at the end of the month. This is Cynthia Layne’s spotlight and her soulful sound will make your ears smile.
Jazz happenings Downtown
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Friday: Monsalve/Perez Quartet, Latin flavored jazz. Saturday: Kyle Quass Group, cutting-edge sounds. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St. “Sizzling Steaks & Jazz Sunday” Oct. 10: Rob Dixon Quartet, straight-ahead sax sounds, 7 to 10 p.m.
Jazz Kitchen, 54th Street and College Avenue. Friday: swinging fun with Mary Moss & Friends. Saturday: saxophonist Rob Dixon Quartet. Shows at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Cover charge.
D’Vine A Wine Bar, 86th Street and Keystone Avenue, Woodfield Shopping Center. Friday: Goldie Johnson, vocals with keyboards. Saturday: Dave Ellman, keyboards/vocals. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday: Bill Lancton, solo guitar, 7 to 11 p.m.
Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 3316 E. 86th St., Keystone at the Crossing. Friday: Steve Corn, piano, Joe Deal, bass. Saturday: Claude Sifferlen, piano, Joe Deal, bass. 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday: Alki Scopelitis, piano, Fred Withrow, bass, 5 to 9 p.m.
Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. “Sunday Jazz Brunch,” tasty jazz by The Impulse Trio, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pauly’s Italian Restaurant, Southport Road and Highway 37. Saxophonist Sophie Faught & Maiden Voyage, Wednesday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.