A fixture on the New York jazz scene since the 1980s, Marty Elkins sang at Jimmy Ryan’s and Eddie Condon’s establishment in their last days, worked with Max Kaminsky, was part of a few vocal groups, recorded with Dave McKenna, and has been a solo artist in a countless number of clubs. Her subtle yet direct singing approach combines with a fetching voice to create a memorable swing style.
Ms. Elkins’ latest recording for the Nagel Heyer label teams her with trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, guitarist Howard Alden, pianist Steve Ash, bassist Lee Hudson, drummer Tayro Okamoto and occasionally organist Joel Diamond on 13 swinging numbers. Nearly all of the songs are from the swing era or earlier. Elkins who sometimes hints a little at Helen Humes and early Lena Horne, has a joyful sound and a real feel for these vintage songs. Kellso is a major asset throughout, whether playing introductions, interacting with the singer, or taking concise solos. Alden also has plenty of brief spots in the limelight, pianist Ash is often reminiscent of Count Basie and Diamond’s organ is mostly quiet yet uplifts the music.
Highlights of the easily enjoyable set include such numbers as “If I Could Be With You,” an uptempo “Runnin’ Wild,” the shouting “Garbage Can Blues,” and “When My Sugar Walks Down The Street,” although in reality all 13 performances are excellent. Anyone who is a fan of first-class swing singing will certainly enjoy Marty Elkins’ latest recording.