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Masumi Ormandy - Beyond The Sea
(Miles High Records, 2023)
Jazz vocalist Masumi Ormandy shares a common distinction with jazz vocalist Beverley Church Hogan in both artists released their debut recordings late in life. Hogan released
Can’t Get Out Of This Mood in 2017 when she was 83 years old (followed by 2022’s Sweet Invitation at 87). Ormandy was 77 when she debuted with 2016’s Sunshine In Manhattan and now sounds a youthful 84-year-old with her present Beyond The Sea.
Hogan and Ormandy are more singers from the school of Rosemary Clooney than Anita O’Day. Ormandy’s singing style and repertoire are thoughtful and conservative. Her setlist for Sunshine In Manhattan included canonical songs like “Autumn Leaves,” “Summertime,” and “Blue Skies.” On Beyond The Sea, Ormandy branches out toward the title song and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
Ormandy has an army of empathic support behind her in producer and mentor Roseanna Vitro, who provides artistic guidance without dogma while meeting the technical and programming with care and knowledge. The mixing and engineering are handled by Paul Wickliffe, who also provided the same services on her previous recording.
Ormandy’s voice is a delicately diminutive instrument. It is light, not bright and intense, but soft and warm, almost maternal. Vitro’s production surrounds this voice with sensitive and attentive musicians armed with finely crafted arrangements that bring out all of the charms of Ormandy’s singing. The singer derives the genuine from “Here’s To Life,” while getting her NOLA on a Dixieland-inspired “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” in which she shares a duet role with Danny Bacher (who also plays soprano saxophone).
Ormandy infuses Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” with a natural gravitas, performed over a gentle samba rhythm. It is a fitting song for this collection, acting as the spiritual center of the project. Ormandy’s considerable talent is productively framed in this project. It is a talent to be respected, admired...and loved.