Gemma Sherry - Gazing At Stars
(Gemma Sherry, 2023)
After a furious start with Songs I Love (2019), Sings Bossa Nova ( 2020), Let’s Get Serious (2020), and Music To Dream To (2021), Australian-Amerian vocalist Gemma Sherry stopped to take a breath, smell the roses, and personally reflect, resulting in Gazing At Stars. This time Sherry has loaded her guns with pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ron Carter, guitarist Paul Bollenback, and drummer George Coleman, Jr. for a generous offering of the Great American Songbook.
“Taking stock,” is what Gemma says she has been doing since the release of Music To Dream To. She has traveled home to Australia where she was greeted by not one but two baby nieces. She has spent time reflecting on the past several years: COVID, her frenetic recording, family, friends, and those things that form a typical life. This has prepared her for this precisely informed and conceived project.
Sherry does not forage far from the beaten path of standards, rather, she takes the tried and true, stripping them down to the veneer and building them back clear, clean, and crisp. Her most effective efforts manifest in those selections where she is supported only by Barron. This subset of selections represents Sherry’s master’s lecture on the art of the ballad, supported by a foremost purveyor of ballads in Barron.
“Like Someone In Love,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” and “Someone To Watch Over Me” are all delivered with a hermeneutic reverence that never stifles the songs, but enhances them and their importance. Ron Carter’s presence ups the ante in “Lies Of Handsome Men” and “Some Other Time” his touch equal to that of Barron.
Progressively adding musicians leads to the lithe Bossa Nova of “Inside A Silent Tear” where guitarist Bollenback and drummer Coleman bring the recital to a shimmering head with a shower of cymbal tones. The quintet also turns in a slinky “Born To Be Blue,” and the understated show-stopper in “It Amazes Me.”
It remains the Sherry-Barron duo that completes the recording. Sherry’s practiced voice maximizes her delicate midrange while decorating the material with a translucent vibrato. Barron’s touch is as certain as sunrise, contributing to his and Sherry’s undeniable empathy. “Blame On My Youth” and “This Will Make You Laugh” sum up the innocent tone of a naively composed daydream.