Title: Say Yes
Artist: La Tanya Hall
Label: Blue Canoe
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: November 8, 2019
Versatile jazz vocalist La Tanya Hall began her career touring with the great Harry Belafonte and has since collaborated with other black music icons including Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Labelle. Hall is perhaps best known, however, for her work with Bobby McFerrin. In addition to guest appearances on McFerrin’s recent albums, Hall has been a member of his 12-voice ensemble Voicestra since 2002 where she became adept at performing concerts where “everything is totally improvised.” These skills are clearly displayed on Hall’s latest project, Say Yes, backed by Andy Milne (piano) & Unison Trio (with bassist John Herbert and drummer Clarence Penn).
Hall explores a wide range of musical gems, from the opening track “All You Need to Say” by Nat Adderly with special guest Michael Leonhart on trumpet to Cole Porter’s American Songbook standard “Ev’yr Time We Say Goodbye.” Other highlights include Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” featuring her partner Andy Milne on piano, and two Thelonius Monk tunes, the uptempo “Well You Needn’t” followed immediately by a gorgeous rendition of “Pannonica/Con Alma.” For the closing track, Hall makes a surprising choice, taking Joni Mitchell’s stripped down anti-war folk song “Fiddle and the Drum” and creating a more haunting lament featuring improvisations from the ensemble with avant garde overtones. This is a wonderful conclusion to Hall’s sumptuous album Say Yes.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss