The Ruby and the Pearl
Among the CD releases I receive each week to review, especially from vocalists, every now and then a voice just seems to leap out of the speakers and grab me right away. Such was the case on The Ruby and the Pearl with a young woman from Detroit with the exotic name of Shahida Nurullah.
Although she has faced a lifetime of personal tragedies, Nurullah has not let it affect her passion for beauty in her outlook or her craft and performance. She has a rare vocal gift. Her voice is pristine and she sings the American songbook standards with a touch of the Brazilian composers Jobim, Horta and Brant. In some ways she reminds me of when I first heard Carmen McRae. Nurullah has the same way of taking lyrics and making you live them with her as she immerses herself in the words and breathes new life into these classics.
From the first track, "Autumn in New York," a tune I have heard countless times by others, she had me. What makes her performance even more stunning are the sensitive arrangements with Tad Weed's sextet of excellent Detroit musicians. Larry Nozero's clarinet, flute and alto sax are the perfect foil for Nurullah's serene song excursions. Definitely a magnificent storyteller on ballads, this lady can swing. She gets her point across like driving spikes with a rubber mallet instead of a sledgehammer. Dig her on "Star Eyes" and "I Was Doing Alright."
With her crystal purity of tone and a marvelously controlled wide vibrato, Nurullah is an artist that all jazz fans should hear.
Rating: 5 Stars
Shahida Nurullah has come back from her own near death experience to breath new life into the American songbook on The Ruby and the Pearl.
* Jazz returns to the Blue Martini, 96th and Gray Road, on Wednesdays. Jan. 11, Goldie & Exquisitely Yours. Jan. 18, Cynthia Layne & Friends. Music 7 to 10:30 p.m.
* Tim Hoover brings his suave, jazz-oriented vocal style to the new Indie Lounge adjacent to the Keystone Art Cinema at Keystone at the Crossing Thursday, Jan. 12 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
* Sultry vocalist Cynthia Layne & Band light up the Red Room, 6335 N. Guilford Ave., every Thursday from 9 p.m. to midnight.
* Davis & Devitt will be playing Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Jan. 12 at Brix, 65 S. First St. in Zionsville.
* Saxophonist/flutist Gregg Bacon & Friends lay down their groove on Fridays at Cipo, 5252 E. 82nd St., from 7 to 10 p.m.
* The Uptown Jazz Quartet will swing away Saturday, Jan. 14 at The Upper Room, 929 E. Westfield Blvd. above the Broad Ripple Steakhouse, from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
* Steve Corn and Fred Withrow combine for hot jazz at the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Keystone Grill, 3316 E. 86th St. Keystone at the Crossing, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* The Four Sexes play Mondays and Tuesdays and the Tommy Mullinix Quartet jams Wednesdays and Thursdays at Nicky Blaine's, 20 N. Meridian St., downstairs from 9 p.m. to midnight.
* "Man with a Horn" saxophonist Tommy Wills plays Tuesdays at the Tip Top Tavern, 1400 N. Capitol Ave., 8 p.m.
* The piano and bass duo of Steve Corn and Fred Withrow play exciting jazz and standards Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Maggiano's, 3550 E. 86th St. Keystone at the Crossing. Thursdays, Bruce Polson joins Fred Withrow, music goes 6:30 to 10 p.m.