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Life Of The Music by Lauren Hooker

Lauren Hooker delivers a bold album full of interesting twists and turns.

The surprises start early. She opens the album with a cool original that she kicks off but then turns over to poet Jeanette Curtis Rideau, who delivers a spoken-word performance. The track conjures up the feel and sounds of a 1950s nightclub inhabited by hip beatniks.

“I ride your music—feel your story and smile,” says Rideau as a horn wails behind her. “Because your music brings out the poetry in me.”

Life Of The Music comes three years after Hooker’s initial album and shows the singer-pianist paving her own unique path far from the territory usually occupied by jazz vocalists. The daughter of musician and jazz educator Louis Hooker, she knows what she’s doing.

The album is made up of seven originals and four well-selected covers that allow Hooker to flex all her musical muscles. She has the light, shimmery touch of a 1960s pop chanteuse on the Latin-flavored “If That’s What You Feel.”

Hooker then sounds completely different when singing Joni Mitchell’s “Song to a Seagull.” Here, she delivers a dreamy meditation that matches the moody seaside images captured in Mitchell’s lyrics.

Hooker refuses to be pinned down to one style and works to make her vocals distinctive to each number. There’s “I Lied,” a catchy pop tune that has her singing in the upper register of her voice. Her versatility can be heard on other numbers as well. “Countin’ On The Blues,” another original, delivers a feet-tappin’ blues romp. Hooker brings swagger to the Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn composition “Love Me Or Leave Me,” playfully using different inflections and stretching notes like a horn player.

Throughout the album, she is backed by a solid band that matches her musical versatility. Together, they take some risks and reap the rewards.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lauren Hooker
  • CD Title: Life Of The Music
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Miles High Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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