Linger Awhile

Linger Awhile

While Samara Joy’s eponymous debut featured her with guitarist Pasquale Grasso and a trio, the follow-up Linger Awhile finds the acclaimed vocalist in a more varied setting. Grasso is still in the mix, ending the album in a duet with Joy as he did on the first one. But tasteful pianist Ben Paterson is a welcome addition (four tracks feature Grasso and Paterson both). Drummer Kenny Washington remains in place, but bassist David Wong takes over for Ari Roland. The lineup swells on Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” with three horns arranged by tenor saxophonist Kendric McCallister. In a twist, Joy sings the Jon Hendricks lyrics, not the earlier and more familiar ones by Bernie Hanighen. Joy pays homage to idols such as Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. The title track, an uptempo cooker, is very similar to Vaughan’s 1957 version from Swingin’ Easy, and the seldom-heard “Guess Who I Saw Today” carries a Wilson association. “Sweet Pumpkin,” by Ronnell Bright, is perhaps Joy’s edgiest, most assertive performance to date; she nearly overloads the microphone with her intensity yet remains firmly in control. But the slickest aspect of Linger Awhile is the vocalese—original lyrics sung to instrumental solos note for note. On Fats Navarro’s “Nostalgia,” based on “Out of Nowhere” chord changes, Joy sings the trumpet solo from Navarro’s 1947 Savoy recording (in D-flat as opposed to Navarro’s key of G). On “I’m Confessin’,” she sings Lester Young’s late-career 1952 solo (changing key halfway through the song for that purpose). It’s an interpretive act that is technically prodigious but above all profoundly musical, illuminating the emotion behind the notes.

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