Deep Purple Dreams (2011)
I keep coming back to this one on the iPod – a second release for Paula Lammers, whose last outing was more than five years ago. I liked it then, promising that I’d look forward to the next release.
And here it is. It’s been too long.
It’s a change of pace, because while Ms. Lammers continues to develop a fine sense of swing, and a bell-clear tone, she’s never far away from her classical/opera training. So it’s easy to make a comparison to some of the pop music performances by soprano Renée Fleming; but frankly, I think Ms. Lammers has the upper hand in that swing thing, helped along by Mary Louise Knutson on piano, Vincent Rose on guitar, Billy Peterson and Chris Bates on bass, and Jay Epstein on drums.
Warm and lilting, Ms. Lammers successfully cranks up the vibe on my favorite tracks, which include the opening “In The Still Of The Night,” the Cole Porter classic, which Ms. Lammers opens acappella; and features a nice riff by Ms. Knutson. Other favorites include Henry Mancini’s “Two For The Road,” one of his favorites too rarely recorded. (Another nice interlude by Ms. Knutson.)
The title track “Deep Purple,” is also a winner, with a nice interlude by Mr. Bates, who unsheathes the bow on his bass.
This is a smart collection of tunes, admirably performed by Ms. Lammers and the combo. I hope we’re not going to wait another five years to hear the next progression in this talented artist’s work. Highly recommended.”
Girlsingers.org — Doug Boynton
It seems there are many up-and-coming female jazz vocalists recording today, but only a very few bubble up to the top. It begins with hard-won musical ability, combined with a true jazz feel and the ability to understand and properly interpret each song. Some of this can be learned, but much is native talent. I believe Paula has all of these qualities and more.
KGNU – Boulder, CO — Jerry Maddock
…(Paula) shares each song’s story with heartfelt conviction, clear diction and a sweet (but not too sweet) tone, swing where it needs to swing, energy where it needs to pop, wistful musing or upbeat sunshine as the story merits.
Jazz Police — Andrea Canter
If the title to jazz vocalist Paula Lammers‘ album Deep Purple Dreams doesn’t give you a bit of motivation to set a specific mood while listening, I don’t know what will. This is a 13-song album that shows her strengths as a vocalist and producer, which means she knew exactly what she wanted and how to achieve a quality collection of songs for her voice, from start to finish. Lammers doesn’t go overboard nor get too extravagant, which for me can ruin the experience of hearing something that may be good or bad. I enjoyed her rendition of Billy Joel‘s “And So It Goes”, and I would love to hear her do more pop-oriented tracks such as this. Nonetheless, with a track listing that includes “Now I’ve Seen You”, “You And The Night And The Music”, and “You Must Believe In Spring”, there’s more than enough to absorb and enjoy. If hearing this leads to dreams of any color or hue, Deep Purple Dreams will be one jazz fans will want to return to many times over.
“…Just lovely, an excellent quartet backing her and nice choice of material. Great vocals with a solid soprano voice and clear diction. Love it!”
Radio Adelaide – Adelaide, Australia — Peter Kuller
“..swinging with a sweet tone that has just enough salt in the mix, Lammers has played some interesting gigs along the way and you can feel the sum total of those miles in the groove. It’s a date that jazz vocal fans should check out. Lammers plays up being a working musician rather than a diva and that makes this a nice change of pace as there’s something important to be said for accessibility. More proof of the groovy jazz scene keeping Minnesota as warm as it possibly can. Kind of figures you’d find Mary Louise Knutson lurking in the mix.
Midwest Record — Chris Spector
O’s Notes: Jazz vocalist Paula Lammers teams up with a swinging hot trio for thirteen standard and pop covers for her second recording. Mary Louis Knudson (p), Jay Epstein (d) and either Billy Peterson or Chris Bates play bass providing ample support and stepping into the spotlight from time to time. Guitarist Vincent Rose plays on four songs notably the samba groove of “South of the Border” and “Now I’ve Seen You”. Paula says “Deep Purple Dreams” are internal places of solace, refuge, and fantasy… they bring me out of the fog and darkness… For us this album is a nice variety of songs that are jovial, fresh and suitable for listening on many occasions.
O’s Place Jazz Magazine — D. Oscar Groomes
Paula Lammers, a singer with a grandly traditional voice, makes some refreshing song choices on the peppy Deep Purple Dreams, choices that propel the record into interesting places.
There are the beautiful, if typically expected, compositions by the likes of Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Johnny Mandel. At the same time, Lammers stirs in newer songs from Billy Joel, Henry Mancini and Rupert Holmes. Over one thrilling passage, she marries Bill Evans’ piano-trio classic “Waltz for Debby” with “I’m Not Around,” the Steven Sondheim piece. Taken together, they imbue a record that might have seemed staid with this memorably modern sheen. And she has a whole lot of fun along the way.
Lammers begins with a co-arrangement of Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night,” singing with a steady strength through the accustomed a cappella opening. Then Mary Louise Knutson, who also contributed to this new arrangement, begins a series of dramatic, charging fills at the piano – giving this familiar piece a thrumming new urgency.
Knutson and Lammers work similar arranging magic on eight of the 13 songs on Deep Purple Dreams; Knutson works as a solo arranger on two other tracks. They work to great effect on Holmes’ “Moonfall,” for instance, which has a smoky late-night romanticism.
Lammers’ boisterous take on Michel Legrand’s “You Must Believe in Spring” is then goosed along by a sprite rhythm section that includes bassist Billy Peterson and drummer Jay Epstein – who adds a series of bashing exclamations.
“How Can I Keep From Singing,” an early American tune co-arranged by Lammers and Knutson, settles into a ruminative groove that showcases second bassist Chris Bates. Lammers does an admirable job of reigning in the roaming notion of the lyric, making it more considered – and thus, more impactful – even as Bates plays a series of guitar-like shapes.
Vincent Rose then leaps to the fore, playing a Latin-inspired guitar riff on “(Not That) South of the Border.” Lammers handles this abrupt shift in gears with aplomb, singing with a breezy confidence on the Judi Donaghy composition. Rose returns for Joel’s “And So It Goes,” as does Bates, but in a far more conventional pop setting. Hewing as it does so close to the expected, it might be the only big miss on Deep Purple Dreams.
Lammers and Co. bounce back in a big way on “Waltz for Debby/Not While I’m Around,” an intriguing blending of mid-century jazz and Tin Pan Alley influences. “Deep Purple” follows from a similar emotional place, as Knutson encircles Lammers’ vocal with a series of swirling twilight figures on the piano.
“Now I’ve Seen You” shakes itself awake behind a chirpy guitar signature from Rose, even as Lammers sings with a cool-jazz smoothness that recalls June Christy. “You and the Night and the Music” runs along a similar theme, though Knutson returns to the blocky impishness that propelled earlier successes on this album like “In the Still of the Night.”
Lammers closes with a pair of quieter thoughts, first with “Two for the Road,” the Mancini song, and then with Mandel’s “You Are There,” with lyrics added by Dave Frishberg. Neither tries to do too much in reiterating Lammers’ buoyant charms, and Deep Purple Dreams is stronger for that.
The album has made its larger point by then, anyway, on “I’m Just a Lucky So and So.” Transformed here into a bluesy torch number, the Ellington piece definitively encapsulates what makes Deep Purple Dreams, despite the portent of its nightfall-themed title, such an ingratiating, stirringly optimistic recording. There’s not a moment that goes by on this track where you don’t viscerally sense just how lucky Lammers believes she is. It’s a contagious feeling.
A Blanket of Blue (2005)
Paula Lammers…a very warm voice that is particularly effective on ballads…Paula Lammers shows that there is still significant talent to be found outside of the major metropolitan areas. Well worth searching for.
All Music Guide — Scott Yanow
Clarity of tone…a seemingly effortless delivery. Her take on “Honeysuckle Rose” has a bouncy feeling, with pianist Peter Schimke opening up with a Waller-esque verve. Lammers’ knowing take on this classic, especially her sly and sultry turn of phrase on “when I’m taking sips, from your tasty lips, seems the honey fairly drips,” highlights the song’s playfully salacious mood and just might send you off for a cold shower.
All About Jazz — Dan McClenaghan
Paula has a lovely, clear voice. She sings with much subtlety and style.
The Jazz Café WRHU – Long Island — Bob Collins
“Though operatically trained there are no histrionics here. Paula uses her great range to present a beautifully balanced set of standards. Her one original tune, “Goodbye…again” shows a talent for composing.
Aaron Fensterheim, Award Winning Jazz Radio Producer/Announcer
Incredible music, indeed. Lammer’s “easy-to-listen-to” soprano has a warm tone, crisp articulation, true pitch, and not a hint of shrill in her top notes. If any comparison is valid, perhaps it’s with Jane Monheit, less theatrical but in the same vein of gentle persuasion, warmly charming, lighting the tracks less with fire and more with glowing embers. Frequently Paula stretches the vowel, giving the music a silken legato that makes the occasional clipped phrase more effective. The sound quality from Winterland Studios (engineered by Brian Johnson and Darren Rust, mixed by Rust), is clean, every instrument so well articulated with the intimacy of live performance that at times I started to applaud a solo. And while Blanket of Blue was recently named to the Top Ten list for 2005 by Smooth Jazz and More, this is “smooth” only in the quality of the voice; this is not “Jazz Lite.”
Jazz Police — Andrea Canter
Lammers simply sings the song in tune with grace and elegance and it works beautifully.
ejazz news — John Gilbert
4 stars out of 4
She has a voice that I can describe as a cross between pop greats Karen Carpenter and Anita O’Day. Her sound is very light and lovely to listen to. If you’re looking for a singer that won’t overwhelm your senses, consider listening to this up and coming songstress. Highly recommended!
Smooth Jazz and More — Michael James
…one can foresee an intoxicating adventure ahead in the industry for Ms. Lammers…this young sound has the potential to really step out in front of the pack in the independent world. Ms. Lammer’s panache and versatility can catapult her far if she allows the force of her talent to take control. The audience will want to follow her path as she grows.
Jazz Review — Karl Stober
Paula Lammers – A BLANKET OF BLUE: & that is what it is, folks! Definitely laid-back, pleasant vocals that will wrap you up & make ya’ warm (in your heart). Debut releases are always fun, ‘coz th’ energies are KICKIN’, & that certainly holds true for Paula’s “on” vocal style. What you’ll notice right away is how clear the words she sings are… & not in a “high style”, either… you know, some singers kind of “affect” their language & come across sounding really phony… that’s not true with Ms. Lammers at all! She’s purely original in her presentation & performance. Most of the tracks are covers… so, for her next outing, hope she’ll include (at least) a few more originals… the one she does include – “Goodbye…Again” – is my favorite cut on the CD, in fact. She’ll reach right out & touch your soul, to be sure… excellent singer, excellent music, excellent album. This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who wants to get “wrapped up” in Paula’s beautiful “blanket of blue.” I’m impressed, & you will be too!
Improvijazzation Nation — Rotcod Zzaj
Paula LammersShe loves the music, is a fresh name and voice, and what a nice voice it is…Miss Lammers could teach most of these big names a thing or two. The vocals are full, consistent and … warm. These songs are about classiness and a finer school of thought, emotional depth and wit…A Blanket Of Blue gets it…Quality is its own distinction.
Fulvue Drive-in — Nicholas Sheffo
She knows her way around a song and deftly milks ballads with imagination…Every one of the eleven cuts on this CD is superb. The well-seasoned musicians are supportive without intruding on the vocals. Lammers is a surprise and delight, and this one is highly recommended. Wow! is all I can say for this effort which will be embraced by those who still enjoy vocals warm and tender with feeling.
Jazz Now — Dorothy Hill