Zooey Deschanel and three other jazz singers who can’t sing | Music | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times
Two types of jazz vocals inspired this piece.
First up, the good one: Norah Jones at Tempe’s Red River Opry (now the Marquee Theater) in July 2002. At the time of this show, Come with meJones’ jazzy debut had yet to hit suburban stereos en masse. However, after mind-blowing renditions of tracks such as “Don’t Know Why” and “Shoot the Moon”, it was evident that now 90-year-old Ravi Shankar’s beautiful daughter was about to blow. up.
Months later – and rightly so – she did.
Uh, the worst: Jane Monheit at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago in June 2001. I had heard Monheit’s first album, Never never land (the cover image features a sultry, alluring Monheit with a velvety lipstick that a vampire could wear), and I thought it was pretty good to see her at the annual summer festival. On Never never land, a music critic even went so far as to say “[Monheit’s] the voice is about as perfect as a human can be. “
Monheit – who ended up being pleasing to the eyes but not to the ears – disappointed what you know about me with her sterile vocal performance. As quickly as the magic of the studio had placed me in a fifth-row seat a few feet from Monheit, his live performance forced me to screw it up if it did.
Where Jones can nail jazz, alternative country, and mellow pop while still looking good, these “Pretty Singers That Try to Sing Jazz But Can’t” are unable to match or surpass their looks. with their performance. Too bad, especially considering that vocal innovators like Abbey Lincoln and Patty Waters are real beauties who deserve a lot more to be fandom, like number one on our list, or singing about a Lexus ad campaign (see number four ):
1. Zooey Deschanel: Doe eyes, (500 summer days heartthrob is killing pop-folk (in a good way) in the She & Him duo project with Mr. Ward. But when she tries to go all jazz, the flat melodies are like a sonorous ouch. Choosing Hollywood over a Broadway jazz career, the latter that Deschanel once considered, was the right thing to do.
2. White hinterland: It pained me a bit to include Casey Dienel’s side project because I love his solo singer-songwriter albums. However, White Hinterland, Dienel’s vehicle for trying things out of his comfort zone, usually ends up sounding sophomor at best. Where the dreamlike, pop “Calliope” is bling bling to my ears, the tune “Dreaming of the Plum Trees”, where she tries the Billie Holiday thing singing behind the beat, goes like this: Dienel sings behind the rhythm, then throws two times in front of him, then again behind and wrong, now again in front of the time, and now. . . I have a headache.
3. Jane Monheit: Mentioned above. Has since tried playing pop music. Great movement.
4. Diana Krall: I guess the Canadian beauty and wife of Elvis Costello can sing the piss of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and other archaic jazz standards. But that’s the trick. Much like Wynton Marsalis riding Louis Armstrong’s unlit trumpet tails or Blaise’s I-want-to-kill-myself-if-I-hear-another-walking-bass-line-or-lame-vibraphone-blaise-DJ selections Lantana on KJZZ, Krall doesn’t add anything new to the genre, other than boredom.