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Christy Baron Steppin CD Cover
Image © Chesky Records 2000

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Christy Baron
Image © 2000 Chesky Records

(18 November 2000) The second jazz-oriented project by singer and actress Christy Baron is entitled Steppin' (Chesky Records (USA) JD201, 2000). Twelve tracks spanning slightly over 50 minutes focus on what Baron calls "modern standards" or "new standards." As with all Chesky's products, this is an audiophile recording incorporating their high resolution '96/24' technology. Like the label's other projects, this album was recorded live, this time over a three day stint in St Peter's Episcopal Church. Chesky's technical production, compact disc pressing and overall packaging are still the best.

One of the new standards is Christy's unique jazz interpretation of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" covered last year by Miriam Stockley on her debut solo album. An equally unique, world-beat style, interpretation of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," and string-based jazz interpretation of Prince's "Thieves In The Temple" certain to appeal to a broad audience also adorn the stunning compact disc. Baron's voice blends throatiness with crystal clear vocalisations to produce a sound that is as evocative as it is sensual.

The bluesy texture and lounge sound of Christy's interpretation of the Phil Collins' classic "This Must Be Love" is lovely. Alex Henderson wrote, "Steppin' will come as a surprise to those whose introduction to Baron was her recording debut of 1996, I Thoguht About You. While that Cliff Korman-produced effort wasn't without R&B and pop elements and found Baron interpreting The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life," Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" and Stevie Wonder's "Summer Soft," it was acoustic-oriented and employed a basic piano trio."

"On Steppin' we wanted to do something different," says David Chesky, "so I asked Didier Rachou to take a few chances and produce something new." He is more contemporary in his approach, mixing jazz, world music and cutting edge-electronica styles. And it's clearly evident in the tracks "Is Love Enough," "Night and Day"—sung as a contrasting duet between Christy Baron and Curtis King—and the album's signature track "Ain't No Half-Steppin'." The dimensions of Chesky's production quality shines in Christy's lovely interpretation of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's "Spooky."

We especially enjoyed Baron's performance of The Zombies' "She's Not There." She puts a very funky, R&B spin on the song. Comments Baron, "My interpretation of 'She's Not There' changes the whole perspective of the song. When The Zombies recorded it, 'She's Not There' was done from a guy's perspective. But my version is a woman telling a guy, 'Get it together, she's not around, but I'm here. Get over it." The raw clarity of Christy's voice is evident in "The Shadow Of Your Smile" with its especially light jazz lounge accompaniment.

From the liner notes, Christy Baron comments, "If Miles Davis were alive today, he'd be continuing to grow and challenge himself. He had to do his own thing, which is why he was an inspiration to so many artists. It's important for artists to express what they honestly feel—and with this album, I was able to incorporate many of the styles that I love and use them to make a personal statement."

We agree with LA Jazz Scene who insists Christy Baron is "a young singer well worth keeping an eye on." Listen to soundbites, read further reviews and order the album at amazon.com here. A jazz-oriented album that blends sounds from pop, R&B, electronica and world beat, this latest project from Christy Baron on Chesky Records is worth a journey—indeed a very nice listen!

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