Amy Banks recorded some of her favourite jazz standards for her third album, When the Sun Comes Out. Accompanied by some fine musicians, she produced a competent jazz album that also includes some classic pop songs from the '70s. The recipe is simple; piano, bass, drums, saxophone, vibraphones and Banks' wonderful voice. Combined, they make this CD a beautiful mixture of romantic songs and brilliant musicianship.
The CD starts with an interesting
interpretation of "How High the Moon." For me it's the excellent instrumental
part that makes this song stick out. Another famous jazz standard is "Devil
May Care," also skillfully played by the musicians. I prefer these rhythmic
jazz songs to the romantic ballads, such as the title track "When the Sun
Comes Out," although Banks' soft and tender voice perfectly matches these
serenades. A brilliant sample is "Skylark." The CD also features a
composition by Banks and piano player Steve Rudolph, "Ruined for the Rest,"
a rhythmic and witty track; they really seemed to enjoy this. Amy
Banks has released a wonderful CD, full of music that invites you to chill out
with your favourite glass in your hand. It is perfect bar music.
This is one vocalist with the voice to carry it off. Her clear, clarion contralto sails like a vocal juggernaut through a program of jazz standards and, as she describes them, "reworked classic pop songs from the 70s." I'll be looking for the next release from Ms. Banks - who clearly has a lot of talent.
An eclectic blend of standards, 70s pop, and one original tune - this young woman from Pennsylvania has a great sense of timing, and a voice that goes from here to "wow" in nothing flat. Ms. Banks cites Nancy Wilson (one of my favorites) among early influences. Ms. Wilson's style is clearly evident, even with Ms. Banks' career some miles down the road. "Devil May Care" is one of those that's been done to death, and yet it's the one of the tracks that I remember as a highlight, along with the four tracks arranged by pianist-arranger-producer Allen Farnham.
Nancy Ann Lee,
On her debut jazz release, vocalist Amy Banks sings 10 tunes, backed by Steve Rudolf or Allen Farnham on piano, Steve Varner (bass), and Rich De
Rosa (Drums), with guests, Tim Warfield (saxophone), and Tony Miceli (vibra-phone). Born in Charleston, IL, Banks comes from a musical family, was earliest inspired
by Nancy Wilson, and around the late 1980s began singing with groups in the Twin Cities area before moving to Atlanta to perform. She eventually completed
studies shed begun at the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelors degree in theater and vocal performance. Banks held myriad singing posts in various
places before landing a stint with the American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA in 2002. Shes made several other recordings but this is her first jazz release.
Banks has an ear-pleasing voice and remains faithful to the melodies and lyrics on Hoagy Carmichael classics such as I Get Along Without You Very Well
and Skylark, on the standard How High the Moon, and on lesser-known gems. Banks delivers a sultry remake of Lover Man, with sensitive accompaniment
from Varner, Micelli and DeRosa. Performed with Rudolf, Varner and DeRosa, her swinging original, Ruined For the Rest, is one of the best tracks showcasing
her rich vocals, expressive delivery and ability to write alluring tunes. With her silky, mid-range voice and tidy phrasing, Banks shows considerable
promise as a jazz stylist.
Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide (AMG)
3 1/2 Stars
The format is largely a basic jazz trio backing with Banks and her silky vocals over the top. Though the material has been covered countless times before, a good voice can enliven it for another pass. Banks has such a voice. Definitely worth a spin.
Jazz Not Jazz,
On this album Amy focuses on the well-known standards with a few surprises thrown in for variety like Phoebe Snow's Poetry Man, a cover of Michael McDonald's It Keeps You Runnin' and one original compostion. Amy is accompanied by fine musicians like Steve Rudolph, Allen Farnham (piano), Steve Varner (bass), Rich De Rosa (drums) and Tim Warfield (saxophone) who create a flawless and inspiring musical background to Amy's rich soprano voice. And if you think you have it heard all before, a woman singing standards, well, then listen to Amy singing Billie Holiday's Lover Man. She really gets into the lyrics and the vibes solo by Tony Miceli adds a haunting effect to the singer's soulful longing. I only wish Tony would've appeared on more songs. Amy's version of Carmichael's I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes) is further proof that she adopts a song to make it her own. Just like her reading of the story of the other women who turns into a sultry vamp with a giggling teen-age crush when she's with the Poetry Man. Tim Warfield's saxophone solo adds further magic to this song, but Amy's not only at home with the ballads and downtempo songs. There's a nice swinging version of How High The Moon and the inspiring midtempo original Ruined For The Rest, written by Amy and Steve Rudolph, that sees Amy in a cheerful mood. With such a good original Amy will hopefully explore her songwriting skills on future releases. "Oh, I know how you feel/ Hey, you know I been there" from the excellent rendition of It Keeps You Running is actually a good description of Amy's approach to singing. She's the one you can run to and trust when your lover has left you and you're yearning for love to happen, she's the one who'll understand you and will cheer you up. Amy's third, self-released and self-produced album When The Sun Comes Out is a fine step into the jazz circuit from a talented singer, who provides you with continuous listening pleasures on this album.
Gilbert, Ejazz News
Amy Banks has a sense of time and (range) which are essential attributes for any jazz singer. She is backed by top notch players, always a big
plus. "How High The Moon" Banks' cadence and innate swing add an original twist to an oft played tune. Nice arrangement. "Devil May Care" A fine treatment by the ensemble and Banks to Bob Dorough's classic composition is a joyful exploration into this quirky melodic penning. "Skylark" Amy Banks pays tribute to Messers Carmichael and Mercer in a manner most impressive and one in which the aforementioned composers would nod approvingly. Amy Banks has all the ingredients and talent of a solid jazz vocalist and she employs them in a most gracious manner, especially in tonality and enunciation.
Trefzger, Jazzweek Magazine
ONE OF THE toughest parts of the job for jazz radio music directors is wading through the piles of CDs from would-be jazz singers, so its understandable that when an unknown comes along, they might be skeptical. The jazz debut of Amy Banks is definitely the exception. Combining some standards with new adaptations of more recent
compositions, Banks brings fresh vitality all of the material to this album, and perhaps just a hint of the theatrical, which is her background. Her touching, tender approach to Phoebe Snows Poetry Man is a delight, while Allen Farnhams powerful, swinging arrangement of Michael McDonalds It Keeps You Runnin is a surprise - especially compared to the mundane drone of the McDonaldized Doobie Brothers. The albums lone original, Ruined for the Rest, penned by Banks and pianist Steve Rudolph, Hoagy Carmichaels I Get Along Without You Very Well, and Devil May Care are other standout tracks. Please dont let this highly recommended CD slip through the cracks without a listen.
Bob Collins, The
Jazz Cafe, WRHU-Long Island
First rate CD -- from the swinging version of How high the Moon to the hauntingly beautiful Skylark.
Banks has her chops and phrasing in place, and her voice is bold and earthy. She handles the power of the title track, the wistfulness of I Get Along Without You Very Well, the blues inflections of Lover Man and her cover of Michael McDonalds It Keeps You Runnin all with equal aplomb.
Banks steps out as co-writer, with pianist Steve Rudolph, of Ruined for the Rest. Its a cute, sophisticated tune and lyric that makes one hope for more original songs in the future. But it is in the closing two tracks, Lover Man and Hoagy Carmichals Skylark that she reveals herself to be a singer blossoming into maturity right in front of us. Lover Man is interpreted in a way that both honors the interpretations of other famous singers who have sung them and creates its own notch in the canon. Accompanied most actively by bassist Steve Varner (drummer Rich De Rosa provides shadings here and vibist Tony Miceli is there primarily as a soloist) Banks delivers her own full-bodied rendition of the fabled song.
Skylark, perhaps best known to jazz listeners as a vehicle for saxophonist Paul Desmond, is given a gorgeous reading by Banks, who does justice to the subtleties of the songs heartbreaking melody. It provides further evidence (if any is needed at this point) that the listener is hearing a future jazz star.
Smooth Jazz and More
4 stars out of 4
Minnesota native Amy Banks is a songstress in the mold of Nancy Wilson. The first thing I'd like to point out is about her voice, her vocal variety is smooth and vibrant. She's not overpowering, but she can be very easy to listen to. Her third CD release is a throwback to the days of the early 60s jazz clubs, mixing American standards and 70s pop tunes. Along with her backup band, they bring together the right formula for a successful recording. I especially enjoyed her rendition of the Doobie Brothers hit, It Keeps You Runnin with a sound right out of Miles Davis classic All Blues. I love this CD. Now I'm curious to see her on TV. She's a diamond in the rough!
Victor L. Schermer,
All About Jazz
Her transparent, fluid soprano voice is yet filled with steamy, sultry innuendo that always gets the best of lifes vicissitudes. Even when singing songs whose lyrics connote unfulfilled longing, such as Lover Man, Banks conveys her power. She will never let other women down, never capitulate. Its power-singing, rather than victim-singing.
The album is well put together not only in terms of the musicians, but also the selection of songs. I particularly enjoyed Banks' rendition of Phoebe Snows Poetry Mana sophisticated and beautifully rendered performance that instantly makes that song part of the jazz repertoire. The final tune, Skylark, is done with a quiet grace that expresses the song's meaning (this classic tune is more nuanced than it seems; Paul Desmond did a beautiful saxophone rendition of it many years ago) at the same time
that it contrasts with the more intense power-singing that characterizes most of the tracks. Finally, the recording quality is excellent.
Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation
Amy Banks - WHEN THE SUN COME OUT: The "keyword" for Amy's vocals is... "rich". You can add any other words you hear... there will be many..."vibrant", "energetic",
maybe even "hot". Her debut jazz CD features some wonderful jazz players as well... Allen Farnham (piano), Steve Rudolph (piano), Steve Varner (bass), Rich DeRosa (drums), Tim Warfield (saxophone) & Tony Miceli (vibraphones); though some of these players are legends in their own right, the arrangements feature Ms. Banks prominently, & her soulful vocals transport you to that jazz nirvana you've been lookin' for all your life. Most of the tunes were written by other players, but track 8, "Ruined For The Rest", is an Amy original (co-authored by pianist Steve Rudolph) & it literally shines... lots of crystal-clear energy & some nice scat at about 2:30 or so. I'd like to hear more originals on her next album, but that still doesn't detract from the rating... this gets a definite MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all who gotta' have "the spirit" in their jazz listening. Keep your ears tuned to this lady... she'll be around for a long time to come!
Nicholas Sheffo, Fulvue Drive-In
She has a beautiful voice and the subtle, effective range always makes the material more involving than it would be otherwise. Thats talent. Most interesting here is her cover of the Michael McDonald/Doobie Brothers hit It Keeps You Runnin, which brings out a fine new aspect of the song which remains one of McDonalds (and the bands) best records. With less Rock and more Jazz, the song is still very recognizable and is a pleasant alternative version.
Dan McClenaghan, All About
Banks has a rich-toned soprano voice with some Nancy Wilson shadings as she covers a couple of pop gems, some jazz standards, and one fine original tune. The lady gets inside a lyric. Michael McDonald's It Keeps You Runnin', arranged beautifully, features a cushioned bass bounce and piano sparkle behind her fluid vocal delivery. When Banks, singing about heartache, says Oh, I know how you feel, yeah, you know I been there, you believe her.
Phoebe Snow's Poetry Man is given a similarly personal treatment. The tale of of a sultry vamp's school girl-like crush (Banks does sultry vamp very well) that's magic in the hands and vocal cords of Banks and Company. I loved the original, but I'd missed the O. Henry twist at the end. Banks makes it very clear when she sings to the object of her infatuation: Home's that place you go, to see your wife. Throw in a yearing soprano sax solo (Tim Warfield) and you've got a true hit, played over and over again on the jukebox.
The standard Devil May Care gets a fittingly jaunty treatment, while the classic I Get Along Without You Very Well (Excpet Sometimes) feels, of course, wistful, but Banks' voice conveys an inner strength that says she'll survive, as it does on another song of longing, the classic Billie Holiday vehicle Lover Man. Banks closes the show with Hoagy Carmichael's jewel, Skylark, as a showcase for the singer's beautiful intonation in front of spare, understated (just piano and bass) accompaniment.
Created and Maintained by:
Kari Gaffney, Publicist
All Rights Reserved