Sylvia Brooks/The Arrangement – (SBM)

Sylvia Brooks, who has been singing and acting in Southern California during the past decade. Her voice is attractive and alluring, her phrasing is swinging, and she always sings in-tune. Ms. Brooks has had some success with her first two CDs, Dangerous Liaisons and Restless, which often found her singing in dramatic fashion while looking back towards the film noir era of the 1940s and ‘50s.
The Arrangement is her most jazz-oriented set to date. Performing 11 familiar standards and three originals, Sylvia Brooks performs with top artists (mostly from Southern California) on arrangements contributed by Otmaro Ruiz, Quinn Johnson, Jeff Colella, Christian Jacob and Kim Richmond. Her singing is always appealing while her improvising is subtle. It is obvious that Ms. Brooks is a top-notch singer.
While some of the arrangements modernize and reharmonize the standards, the best performances are the ones that have charts that let the music breathe and include some space. The most rewarding renditions include “Eleanor Rigby,” a swinging “The Tender Trap,” “Angel Eyes” and the three originals. It is particularly rewarding hearing the singer perform her “Sweet Surrender” as a duet with pianist Christian Jacob. There are also occasional statements from sidemen with the solos of Ron Stout on flugelhorn and tenors Bruce Babad and Bob Sheppard being standouts.
The Arrangement (available from www.sylviabrooks.net) is Sylvia Brooks’ finest recording to date. It makes one look forward to her Catalina performance of Wednesday June 7. Scott Yanow