Even if you start your recording career in childhood as the daughter of jazz pianist Hod O’Brien and vocalist Stephanie Nakasian, that’s no guarantee you’ll become the bold, strikingly mature stylist that Veronica Swift proves herself to be on Confessions. After placing second in the prestigious Monk Competition in 2015 and logging impressive appearances with pianist Benny Green and others, Swift runs the show and triumphs on her Mack Avenue breakout, fronting two different but equally hard-swinging trios. Green, bassist David Wong, and drummer Carl Allen play on “Interlude,” the original “I Hope She Makes You Happy,” and the inspired melange “Confession / The Other Woman.” Pianist Emmet Cohen handles the rest, joined by bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole.
The song choices are anything but pat and expected; every arrangement sparkles with invention. Swift’s fiery yet somehow easygoing command extends to the brightest strutting swing (“Gypsy in My Soul”) and the slowest of ballads (Mel Tormé’s “A Stranger in Town”). Her tone and pitch are spot on, her interpretive instincts fresh, her scat singing decisively a cut above. On the trading chorus of the bass/vocal duet “No Not Much,” her play of syllables and sounds recalls James Moody or Dizzy Gillespie at their gibberish-spouting best.