“Under an August Moon” revels in the romance of pop and jazz. Jane Roche’s new album has an undeniable retro side. Whatever it has in common with the sixties hit parade, or the great standards of jazz , this record digs up roots only to replant them in modern soil. Produced by Scott Roche & Kip Kuepper, Grammy Nominated Rare Silk alumni, this album has an eclectic song list that fluctuates delectably between longing and fulfillment. it is thrilling whenever a singer can evoke a mood so passionately that you feel like you are standing in her aura when she sings. Jane Roche does just that.
On the opening track, "So Nice To Come Home To", the combination of vibes, big horn and flute parings, combined with shifty rhythm changes, instantly gets your foot tapping.
In "Lucky Southern" the lyrics (by Rare Silk vocalist MaryLynn Gillaspie) seem positively over the moon but the melody takes charge and serves up just the kind of love affair Jane’s so gaga about. Jeff Jenkin’s Rhodes piano chimes in to levitate the rhythm and Bill Copper’s wandering guitar outro are just two fine-tuned examples of the classy detail that this record is tricked out with, front to back.
A glorious standard that has been chased by every serious jazz singer since it was born, “The Man I Love”, allows Jane to shape those blues into a full-on sultry swing with delectable shadings round every turn. International jazz artist Nelson Rangell’s flutes and woodwinds sustain a sensuous, soft, blue flame.
Upon first hearing "The Gift" you'll swear you’d heard it first in an Ella Fitzgerald record. Surprise, this gift was bequeathed to the world from none other than Ms. Roche herself, and what a standout. “I, I , I, am so in love with you. Do be do do be do be do, I, I, I, can’t get over loving you…” A stuttering infatuation entices this girl to bound and scat with infectious abandon–and scat she can–tight, fat syllables tumble out in loopy rhythms. This is the catchiest tune you never heard.
In the opening verse of "Tenderly", Jane’s voice seems ideally suited to the soft, muted-trumpet quality that sounds out the early passages, but then she socks it home with full-throated rapture for the finale. Now hear this! Her voice can project massive mojo when it is moved to.
“Summer Samba” frosts the ears with musical butter cream as Jane pipes in her love dream from a paradise of pinks and aquas. Flutes and high reeds blend with sugar beats in pastel shades. Piano brilliance and flutes sprinkle confectioner’s polish over this impeccably iced nugget of Bosa-Nova.
In “My Man” Jane instills this lovelorn lament with impressive range of emotion. The production has a Broadway feel while the memory of Ms. Holiday is never far. It’s an old-fashioned tune that never goes out of fashion– not in the hands of this moody chanteuse.
The 7th track, "Livin' Room" is served up with an intriguing twist. As with what’s come before it, the details are dialed–from high-level musicianship to fresh, original arrangement. Jane’s executive producer and husband, Scott Roche, joins her on this track. Whatever their secret is, the expanded combo harnesses it to elevate this track to a standout on the record.
Here’s a glowing fireplace twinkling through cocktail crystal. “S’wonderful” - Sip its smoothness and you’ll sense the Gershwin songbook had to be gospel in the home where this singer grew up. It is indeed wonderful how that silky breeze of hers is so ecstatically situated as the instrumentalists swaddle her syllables in snuggly phrasings.
What a lot of fun a bit of bop can become when Jane and the band enthuse with this much energy on "Hit That Jive, Jack". Got to love the bravado of that swing. It's a high-strung, rhythmic feat. Everybody on the street bounces to his beat. What a joy to be swept up in the train of this holy hipster’s scat and jive!
The final track, “Carol Burnett’s Theme,” is the last example from a long list with which “Under an August Moon” unexpectedly socks it to us. The song tops off this album charmingly, with a craving for more carefree times. It's an endearing send off from a singer and band that have mapped for us an entrancing itinerary in the land of romance.