Hannah Gill • Everybody Loves a Lover

Hannah Gill • Everyone Loves a LoverWhile this is her debut album as leader, Hannah Gill has been on the scene longer than her 26 years might suggest. She moved to New York City fresh out of high school in 2015 and began appearing with local swing and trad jazz bands right away. She also lead a group playing her own original songs, some of which found YouTube success. Her big break came with a pair of viral pop covers for Post Modern Jukebox in 2017, and she has toured the world twice with the band. She has also toured internationally with swing superstar Gordon Webster, who plays piano on this album, and she has recorded with Glenn Crytzer and Vince Giordano, among others.

There is a reason these excellent bandleaders were eager to have her singing for them, her vocal skill and sound is a remarkably natural fit for classic jazz and swing. Hannah Gill sounds to me like a young woman on a 1940s radio quiz show, one you picture as sly and attractive even over the airwaves. She has that crisp Ivy League voice of the era, rich, with a casual confidence that, as those women aged, became associated with the smoky sensuality of 1967’s Mrs. Robinson. It is the classic Mid-Atlantic accent, the movie star voice, more humorously remembered as “grandma’s phone voice.” Many singers of the standard repertoire attempt it, whether by nature or design, or a little of both, Hannah Gill has it.

Red Wood Coast

On Everybody Loves a Lover she puts her voice to good use singing a set of titles you might have heard on a vocal album of the late ’40s or ’50s. Think Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Anita O’Day or their contemporaries. Fortunately for us, her backing band has a lot more jazz than the Paul Weston types that often accompanied those vocal albums, making this an upbeat and timeless, rather than dated, experience.

In addition to Gordon Webster, her excellent band includes Danny Jonokuchi, trumpet; Ryan Weisheit, reeds; Sam Chess, Trombone; Greg Ruggerio, guitar; Tal Ronen, bass; and Ben Zweig, drums. I happily admit that several of these names are not familiar to me. Perhaps they will become so! Danny Jonokuchi also arranged the music, which while centering Gill’s vocal and sending it swinging, also leaves plenty of room for playful exchanges and solos.

Turtle Bay Records is a natural fit for Gill. While I can think of other NYC jazz labels that would have been happy to produce her record I don’t think any would have had a result this appropriate to her voice, experience, or most importantly her interest in the classic jazz sound. They would have tried to push her in the oversaturated direction of mainstream jazz and dimmed the rare spark that got her where she is.

Hot Jazz Jubile

My hope is that the relationship with Turtle Bay is mutually beneficial, exposing some of her fans to the other jazz artists on the label while giving them a full album of her performing standards rather than pop tunes. I think anyone who finds themselves curiously drawn to the jazzed up covers performed by PMJ would embrace this album from beginning to end. They have been primed to dig deeper. The album notes on my CD release fold out into a small poster of the excellent cover art, if the LP does the same it would come to a hefty size. I would love to think some of these posters will be stuck up on the bedroom walls of young fans.

This is not to imply the established jazz fan shouldn’t take this release seriously. When Dave Doyle reviewed the album a few months ago he was enamored enough to order a vinyl copy to the UK. I also anticipate popping this album in the changer ever so often. I simply share the dream of jazz finding a broader contemporary audience, and an easy to love record like this makes a great gateway drug. The thought excites me.

Titles include the very fun “Moonlight Savings Time,” “Lullaby of the Leaves,” “Put ’em in a Box,” “I Fell in Love with a Dream,” “You Were Only Fooling,” “Autumn Leaves,” and five more. Nothing here has been overplayed, especially recently. Whether you have been a Hannah Gill fan all along, or are looking for something fresh, Everybody Loves a Lover is a contemporary classic you should have in your collection.

Hannah Gill • Everybody Loves a Lover

Joe Bebco is the Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times and Webmaster of SyncopatedTimes.com

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