Samara Joy has been getting a lot of publicity in the jazz world lately, and rightfully so. She has a beautiful voice, a wide range, full knowledge of the jazz vocabulary, always swings, and seems to pick out the best note for each moment, placing each sound perfectly for maximum swing. A very mature artist who knows how to use self-restraint yet is not shy to cut loose when a song needs it, she just recently turned 24.
In 2019 she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and in 2021, shortly after she graduated from college Samara Joy released her self-titled debut album. Since then she has had a meteoric career, becoming more famous each month to the point that she is now a headliner at major concerts and festivals. In 2022 she released her second album, Linger Awhile.
Linger Awhile originally consisted of ten selections with Samara Joy interpreting such swing tunes as the uptempo “Linger Awhile,” “I’m Confessin’,” “Someone To Watch Over Me” (a duet with the brilliant guitarist Pasquale Grasso), and a Sarah Vaughan-associated song well worth reviving, “Can’t Get Out Of This Mood.”
Other numbers include Nancy Wilson’s hit “Guess Who I Saw Today,” the obscure but happily uptempo “Sweet Pumpkin,” “Misty,” “Social Call,” and “‘Round Midnight.” Of special note is “Nostalgia,” a beboppish melody written by trumpeter Fats Navarro which utilizes the chord changes of “Just Friends” and was outfitted with excellent lyrics by the singer. On most selections, Samara Joy is joined by a small combo with guitarist Grasso and/or pianist Ben Paterson.
Recently Linger Awhile was released again but this time as a deluxe edition with the original ten-song program being joined by eight additional selections. The new settings range from a three-horn septet to duets with pianist Gerald Clayton. While four numbers (including two more versions of “Guess Who I Saw Today”) are songs heard on the original set, the settings are different as are Joy’s interpretations. Of greatest interest are the four new songs: “I Miss You So,” pianist Barry Harris’ “Sometimes Today Seems Like Yesterday,” an uptempo “I’m Gonna Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key,” and a little-known Duke Ellington piece, “I’m Afraid Of Loving You Too Much.”
Throughout all of these performances, Samara Joy (who sometimes recalls an early Sarah Vaughan) shows that she is one of the top jazz singers on the scene today. Hopefully she will be able to resist the inevitable temptations to go pop or commercial and will stick to her worthy mission of adding to the legacy of classic jazz while serving as a gateway for younger listeners to discover the rich music.
Samara Joy • Linger Awhile – Deluxe Edition