Rebecca in her earlier years, like Dinah Washington in her prime, possessed the vocal authority to confront a formidable song and overpower it if she so chose. Today she is more the stylist who can read lyrics with the all-knowing assurance of a Carmen McRae, Billie Holiday or Peggy Lee.
Her new CD, “You Don’t Know Me,” has all of the earmarks of a winning hand. She’s stacked the deck with aces, including a top rhythm section.
The versatile pianist Brad Hatfield is equally at home making music with Aretha Franklin and Mark Murphy or appearing with the Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony. He is also an Emmy-Award-winning composer.
Bassist Peter Kontrimas is a conservatory grad who over time has provided rhythm section support for Clark Terry, Rosemary Clooney, Sheila Jordan, Shirley Horn, and a host of other jazz and standard-pop icons.
Drummer Matthew Gordy is classically trained and has performed in a range of musical settings, including work with Three Irish Tenors and Aretha Franklin, and playing under conductors Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copeland. (Jim Lattini is heard on drums on the title track.)
Talk about a coup. The lady surely pulled one off in acquiring the services of two of the best tenor saxophonists in jazz, Houston Person and Jerry Bergonzi. And how about attaining vibraphonist Gary Burton, an old friend, with whom she has previously recorded? Each guests on a number of vintage selections such as “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “East Of The Sun,” “Alone Together,” “Don’t Go To Strangers,” “Yesterdays,” “I Wish I Knew,” “Weaver of Dreams,” “All of You,” “Smile,” “My Ship,” and “You Don’t Know Me.”
Paris, France, is said to be the City Of Lights. Rebecca Parris may not be capable of illuminating a whole city. She’d just settle for lighting fires in the hearts of those who still remember what good music is all about.
--Bob Perkins, jazz program host, WRTI Philadelphia.