May 19, 2011
Melanie Gardot

I haven’t done music because I don’t really feel qualified to write about it in any depth. Now some may say that I’m barely good enough for the local paper, let alone the New York Review of Books when it comes to literature and the other matters that I’ve dealt with here, but it’s every man’s right to make a fool of himself from time to time.

Melody Gardot has one previous album out, as well as an EP that’s available only by special order. She started singing after an automobile that caused significant injury, including neurological damage.

I tend to feel that too often people like Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton get favored not because their work is any good, but because they are victims. Plath and Sexton are women, which is one point on the victim scale, and they both committed suicide, which is another point.

Ideally you should be able to separate the biographical component from the literary work, and consider its purely literary or, in this case, musical aspects.

Melody’s voice is beautiful. It suggests late nights in smoky cafes and bars with Bogart and Bacall or Powell and Loy smoking and drinking, and foul play afoot. Her version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, will not make you forget Garland’s version, nothing can do that, but it stands on its own. Melody’s version is a bossa nova interpretation of the standard.

Some of the reviews at Amazon emphasize that her music is quiet and relaxing. I don’t think that is necessarily a good thing in jazz. Too often something like that, or “stylish” translates into “boring,” and the album is not boring. It is intense, and repays careful listening.

Buy this one for the jazz lover in your life.