Blue Bop

Seldom are we rewarded by a singer whose emotional warmth matches her technical fire, whose eloquence is as galvanizing as her grasp of melody and rhythm. Judy Niemack delivers on all counts because she digs in where most merely dabble.

Whether exploring romance with breathy credibility or infusing bebop with spirit and spontaneity, Judy is in full possession of her material. She could easily surrender to flamboyance - she certainly has the instrument and range for it. Instead she explores and gently embroiders each composition with fresh significance, clear and touching.

You can taste the despair in Dave Frishberg's lilting Wheelers and Dealers when she sings the plaint: "Seems/ "Like all the dreamers ran out/ "Of dreams/ "And nothing feels the same./ "It's such a pity/ "It's such a shame."

Her buoyant reading of Cedar Walton's Bolivia complements the pianist's joyous invention with a horn-like, resonant punch. And when she moves to the poignant Born to be Blue, she bathes it in simple resignation rather than regret; surrender instead of sorrow; then tags in a spiraling coda.

Judy lays out balanced and rich passages on Moanin' before rippling through a crystalline scat chorus in the company of Walton and trombonist Curtis Fuller. And the crispness of her bop lines on Dizzy Atmosphere celebrate her own designs without sacrificing the intent of John Birks Gillespie. You could tune your piano to her pitch.

Parker's Mood has special meaning for her. When she began studying with the late tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, he told her to learn Bird's solo on the tune. "I brought the record home and listened to it, and I though, 'this guy is crazy. I'll never learn it.'" The track on this album, in which she reassembles the complex bluesy construction with authenticity, warmth and relish, is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Marsh was one of the many influences that helped shape her originality. There were also years of classical training, and explorations in folk, rock, improvisation and the great American standards. She understood the link between learning to sing anything technically and the art of improvisation. And she applies both without sacrificing the visceral heart of a lyric.

Few singers have Judy Niemack's keen grasp of melody, rhythm harmonics and phrasing, or such a sumptuous instrument with which to express them.

Stuart Troup - New York Newsday
Dizzy Atmosphere

One does not usually encounter such songs as Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," "Dizzy Atmosphere" and "Moanin'" on vocal albums, but Judy Niemack has always been a very instrumental-oriented jazz singer. Whether scatting, stretching out words, or singing unexpected notes, Niemack (who should be much better-known) is consistently brilliant on this CD from the French Freelance label. She is assisted by Walton, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Joey Baron and (on three of the 14 numbers) trombonist Curtis Fuller throughout the consistently swinging and often adventurous set. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide Judy Niemack vocals, Cedar Walton piano, Ray Drummond bass, Joey Baron drums, Curtis Fuller trombone (on 3, 10 and 12). Produced by Judy Niemack