Suzi Stern & George OldzieyLeap of Heart (Aardvark)
It's not her warm voice, per se, that's earned Suzi Stern the accolades of Austin's jazz community for years. Rather, it's her uncanny interpretive powers to take a well-worn standard or pop tune and, with subtlety and grace, mold it into something unique. Stern's joined here by her pianist/arranger/partner George Oldziey and the stellar rhythm section of UT's John Fremgen on bass and drummer Brannen Temple, with a few tasteful licks from veteran trumpeter Bob Meyer. She imbues timeless tunes by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, and the Gershwins with her own reflective style, adding refreshing twists throughout, be it a delightfully swinging scat chorus on Cahn's "Time After Time" or a hint of compadre Tina Marsh's vocal gymnastics on Berlin's "Change Partners." A contemporary pop song or two would have been a nice change of pace to this otherwise thoughtful and intimate set.