It seems like I waited forever for Julie Hardy to release her new CD The Wish, an album released under the banner of World Culture Music, an artist collective record label. It was not so much the time that passed by that made me antsy, but the anticipation of hearing her new compositions. This is Hardy’s first project since A Moment’s Glance in 2005, and it is another masterpiece.
Hardy is one of several New York based female jazz singers/composers who are ensuring that the future of female jazz vocals is in good hands. That group includes, Argentina’s Sofia Koutsovitis, Canadians Brenda Earle and Melissa Stylianou and former Valley girl Gretchen Parlato.
Hardy opens The Wish with the lovely Richard Rodgers/ and Hammerstein II song "We Kiss In A Shadow," from the 1951 Broadway musical The King And I.
As a singer, one of Hardy’s greatest attributes is her ability to immerse herself in all the colors and emotions of a song. Lyrically her phrasing is impeccable. On "I Wish I Knew," she lets the notes linger, gracefully, as they gently fade, and the next phrase emerges just as tenderly. She sings with authenticity and without a hint of a façade.
Several times throughout the album, as she does during "August," she uses her voice as another instrument, without actually singing lyrically, nor is she scatting. The ethereal element is used to great effect in "August." This original composition of Hardy’s contains a beautiful guitar solo by Ben Monder. The instrumentals for "August," including the drumming of Kendrick Scott, Matt Clohesy’s thoughtful bass playing and Randy Ingram’s piano chops, all contribute to this being an outstanding tune. At 7:26, the song is the longest track from The Wish, but like the rest of this collection of songs, the listener never grows restless.
On A Moment’s Glance Hardy covered the Beatle’s tune "And I Love Her." This time she dipped into the Lennon and McCartney archives and plucked "I’m Looking Through You," setting the song to new arrangements, with a jazz audience in mind. Hardy’s reading of "I’m Looking Through You," does Sir Paul and John proud. Jaleel Shaw (alto sax) has an extended solo, but the soloist who really catches your ear is Hardy’s fiancé and band mate pianist Randy Ingram. Ingram approaches the piano with the same sensitivity that Hardy approaches her singing. This is a song you want to make sure you are dialed into. Covering a song is difficult enough, writing new arrangements for it makes it even more daunting, but to do both with a Beatle’s tune and pull it off in fine style is a major accomplishment.
Other songs to listen for on The Wish include the Wayne Shorter tune, "Song Of The Iris," and the saxophone heavy, "All Or Nothing At All," from the pens of Arthur Altman and Jack Lawrence. As interesting sidebar to "All Or Nothing At All," is that, it was originally recorded in 1939 by Frank Sinatra and Harry James, but did not become a hit until 1943.
Hardy has included three original compositions on The Wish that explore three different moods and stages of romance, "On The Verge: The Wish Suite Part I)," "Patience: The Wish Suite Part II," and "Soaring: The Wish Suite Part III."
With 14 tracks and 1:15:50 of playing time, this is a long project that never feels long. You get a lot of great music, that you never get tired of listening to, and sung by one of the brightest young stars on today’s jazz scene.On October 16, Hardy will be celebrating the release of her new CD at New York City’s the Jazz Standard. Watch the singer’s website www.juliehardy.com for more information. You can also listen to audio clips through her website or pre-order the CD.