Veronica Nunn — Vocal
Travis Shook — Piano
Jennifer Vincent — Bass
Jaz Sawyer — Drums, Percussion
Ron Westray — Trombone
Kebbi Williams — Tenor Sax
Veronica describes American Lullaby as a process for defining her musical journey, stamped with a very personal vision. With a voice reminiscent of early Abbey Lincoln and Carmen McCrea, Veronica calls herself a “jazz traditionalist,” steeped in the concept of singers as instrumentalist and driven by the influences of blues, soul, classical, and folk music. The album is smooth and accessible, full-bodied jazz, musically rich and inventive.
Veronica and her quintet give fresh jazz interpretations to a careful selection of lesser-recorded tunes, including Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach’s “Living Room,” a metaphor for giving two people plenty of space for the relationship to grow. Also included are Stephen Sondheim’s “Green Finch & Linnet Bird” and “Not While I’m Around,” both taken from 1979 London’s Sweeney Todd. The musical thriller is about an unjustly exiled barber who slices up his clients as a way of enacting revenge for the rape of his wife and his subsequent frame-up by a corrupt judge. With the assistance of a lovesick baker named Ms. Lovett, the clients’ remains are then used as filling for her pies. Although gruesome, if the two songs are taken out of the context of the play, they stand as strong melodies with oddly positive and insightful lyrics.
Legendary singer/songwriter Michael Frank’s “Don’t Be Blue” is another comment on possessing a positive attitude when it comes to life and love. The album also includes familiar songs such as Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” and Rogers & Hammerstein’s “It Might As Well Be Spring,” as well as a Veronica Nunn original, “You Know You’re in Love” and a piece by multi-instrumentalist Gerry Niewood entitled “This Joy,” to which Veronica added lyrics.
The album’s careful and subtle orchestration provides ample room to showcase the exceptional talents of the rest of the band: Travis Shook (piano), Jennifer Vincent (bass), Jaz Sawyer (drums & percussion), Kebbi Williams (tenor sax), and Ron Westray (trombone).
Veronica produced the album together with her husband, acclaimed jazz pianist Travis Shook. American Lullaby is the first of a set of 3 CDs known as the Systems Two Trilogy, recorded on the Woodstock-based label Dead Horse Records. The two and a half day recording session in February 2000 also produced two other releases, Travis Shook’s Plays Kurt Weill, in which she is featured on two highly-textured selections, “Lost in the Stars” and “Lonely House”, and Shook’s Awake, in which she makes a cameo appearance on Bob Dorough’s quirky “Nothing Like You.”
“Nunn is very much, her own stylist and sounds like no one else . . . I look forward to more by this talented singer and her group.”
Ken Franckling, Jazz Improv Magazine
“She sings with skill and confidence and swings mightily on a mix of jazz chestnuts, popular show tunes and originals.”
Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine
“Unmistakably, this is an exceptional debut . . .”
Jim Santella, LA Jazz Scene
“Veronica Nunn is unforgettable.”