Donna Singer has the kind of voice that can captivate you in a matter of a few notes. She has the kind of wide-open churchy enunciation of a gospel soloist and the sultry swing of a Jazz one. Her phrasing is broad and encompasses lyricism and storytelling. She brings her enriched tone to bear on the lowest solo lines singing throughout Set Your Heart Free with firmness, lyricism and a powerful communicative quality.
Miss Singer brings her bright, fresh tone to each of these heartfelt songs, energising or relaxing each of the songs as demanded of her by the story and the pace of the music. It is a short album – a mere half hour – which means that there is no time to warm up and deliver music that rises and crests at a notional mid-point, before its proverbial crescendo. Songs are relatively short as well. But Miss Singer drops into the groove immediately. On songs that require a sense of intimacy – such as “My Dear” her tones are appropriately hushed and the colours are subtly daubed onto the words as if brushed rather than sung. More vigorous numbers, although never belted out, are delivered with abundant swing.
The group impresses as well. This is unsurprising as two of its main members are the Mustafa brothers – Melton Mustafa Jr plays saxophones and his brother Yamin, trumpet. Their father was, of course the well-known Melton Mustafa, whose horn graced [among other bands] one led by Jaco Pastorius. Overall, the band supplies distinctive colour and vibrancy throughout, observing the music’s finest details.
Track list – 1: Destination Jazz; 2: When you Have a Dream; 3: To be a Child; 4: Why Kids Should Have all the Fun; 5: Spread Your Wings; 6: How It Ends; 7: Your Road; 8: My Dear; 9: Your Road; 10: We Can Make a Stand
Personnel – Donna Singer: vocals; Brad Keller: piano; Ranses Colon: bass; Adolfo Herrera: drums; Yamin Mustafa: trumpet; Melton Mustafa Jr: saxophones; Greg Minnick: guitar
Released – 2020
Label – Emerald Baby Recording Company
Runtime – 32:02