Rebecca Kilgore thrives in the recording studio. She has been part of over 50 albums and performs frequently with nearly everyone on the jazz party circuit including Dick Hyman, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Dave Frishberg, Andy Brown, Harry Allen, Bernd Lhotzky, Ehud Asherie, Randy Porter, Rossano Sportiello, Paolo Alderighi, John Sheridan and others. TST has covered a number of her albums, though I had yet to weigh in before now.
The 13 track Trio Sesions Vol. 1 finds her with Randy Porter on piano and Tome Wakelingon bass. On two tracks the trio is joined by Dick Titterington on the cornet. All is revealed by such a simple configuration, this is jazz reduced to it’s most elemental. The trio melds into one unit of softly swinging expression, and the voice of that unit is Kilgore’s own. Her vocal is so relaxed and prominent one has the impression of hanging around the piano and being addressed directly.
Her experienced vocal is uniquely moderate. As Michael Steinman put it “She doesn’t shout or howl or stamp to convince you that she is, in fact, a Jazz Singer.” She finds the strengths of the melody and expertly negotiates them, inhabiting them without showiness. The result is a clarity in which the words matter and melody is not forgotten. The selection of tracks here emphasizes these strengths; “Azure,” “Old Soft Shoe,” “I Wanna Get Married,” “Like the Brightest Star,” “The Gentleman Is A Dope,” “Because We’re Kids,” “There’s a Small Hotel,” and several others. These won’t be overly familiar for most audiences, she offers the experience of hearing each story afresh.
The piano and bass combo is one of my favorite pairings in jazz, able to convey things a larger group can mussy up. In this context while they are mostly supportive of Kilgore they also get to fill the moments of pause with charm and feeling. The album has a strong sense of presentness. I encourage jazz lovers to slip into your favorite chair and take it in deeply.