FAME Review: Denise King & Olivier Hutman - Give Me the High Sign
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Denise King & Olivier Hutman - Give Me the High Sign

Give Me the High Sign

Denise King & Olivier Hutman

Cristal Records - CR209

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com)

Denice King possesses a rich lustrous voice made for both jazz and chart hits; thus, she occupies a niche that straddles both but arrives with an advantage: this singer very much understands jazz first, popular music second. That imbues a subtle creativity that most mainstream singers lack, a rich bedrock just beneath the chart-ier numbers. It doesn't hurt, either, that her partner in crime is Olivier Hutman, a keyboardist-writer who likewise knows modern jazz, working outward from its core. Most of the songs here are co-written with Viana Wember-Hutman (his wife?, it's hard to tell since, on the Net, most everything written about the guy and his work is in French), and I suspect the lion's share of arrangements are his as well, abetted by input from King.

The effect is much like one of my favorite singers, Randy Crawford, though King's is distinct from Crawford's work. There is, however, a very noticeable warmth in both as well as pronounced sympatico with the modus, an affinity avoiding clichés, the hackneyed, and, thank God, the boring. I don't listen to radio for music EVER, but were it to contain a good deal more of this sort of soul/jazz/chart work, I'd change my mind rather quickly. Crawford was soulful-melodic while King displays a bit more fire and earthier sensuality, as in cuts like Mellow Mellow, which is indeed mellifluous but also starts pulling back the covers on a bed of banked fires. The seductress side emerges fully in a slinky version of I only Have Eyes for You, showing just how versatile King's emotional range is. I can't recall when I've heard that classic covered this quietly while still dripping with desire.

In that song, drummer Steve Williams displays his chops well within an instrumental backing band (five members, all told) tackling all modality shifts adeptly, also seen in the follower, What did They Say Today?, a song jumping the divide over into bop sneaking up on scat, as close as can be without skoobly-op'ing. The entire disc is nearly an hour long in 12 cuts, so you get plenty of time to explore King's voice and the band's classy élan. As far as I can tell, this is her fourth release, the second with Hutman, but comes across like it was her 20th, deeply invested with a long familiarity of exactly what's needed in what she's doing.

Track List:

  • I Lost My Way (Hutman / Wember-Hutman)
  • Don't Overact (Hutman / Wember-Hutman)
  • Mellow Mellow (Hutman / King)
  • Night Vision (Hutman / Wember-Hutman)
  • I Only Have Eyes For You (Warren / Dubin)
  • What Did They Say Today? (Hutman / Wember-Hutman)
  • The Things We Don t Want (Hutman / Wember-Hutman)
  • Can You Do It? (Hutman / King)
  • Blame It On My Youth (Levant / Heyman)
  • Give Me The High Sign (Hutman / King)
  • Save The Children (Gil Scott-Heron)
  • Daydream (Ellington / Strayhorn / Latouche)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 
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