Revealing Musical Riches: Bay Area Jazz Singers Kat Parra and Melissa Morgan

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Melissa MorganThe new “Days Like This” album is more of a reintroduction than a daring new step. She made a strong impression in 2009 with her debut album “Until I Met You” (Telarc), a critically acclaimed session featuring a stellar cast of young musicians led by pianist Gerald Clayton. Based in Los Angeles then, she moved to the Bay Area a few years ago and made connections with some of the area’s top musicians, such as pianist Larry Vuckovich and saxophonist Noel Jewkes.

For her second album, she was inspired by her old LA, comrades, players like guitarist Graham Dechter, drummer Kevin Kanner and Clayton, now one of New York’s most esteemed pianists. Released digitally only, Morgan plans to release the project on CD in the coming months.

It’s a blues-focused session, which means Morgan is in his element. She delivers the title song, a Mose Allison classic, with a world weariness so tangy that she looks like her long-lost daughter. She looks crisp and bossy while tearing up Wes Montgomery’s “West Coast Blues” standard, but her painful version of “You Don’t Know Me” and her sultry, captivating take on “Wild Is the Wind” makes me dream of a full program of Morgan songs. ballads and songs with torches.

While “Days Like This” only offers a glimpse of what Morgan can do, it doesn’t take much to recognize an extremely gifted singer with a very bright future.

Kat Parra performs at San Jose’s Hedley Club August 12, Saratoga Maison Rose Coffee August 20, and North Hollywood’s E Spot Lounge September 4.

Melissa Morgan performs at Brisbane’s 7 Thousand House July 26 and Oakland Sound Room August 13.


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