When the rare perfect storm comes together, combining a really talented jazz vocalist, a combo of smooth, accomplished players, and a collection of ear-catching material, the results can be magical. Voilà, Discovery, the new album by Tiffany Jane and the Kicks, a masterful and refreshing album that hits on all soul cylinders, finds room for some funk, and gives Jane’s wonderful set of pipes free rein to shine.
After pocketing Best Blues Artist award at 2012’s LA Indie Music Awards, the band is up for this SDMA’s Best Jazz; this disc shows why on the songs co-written by vocalist Jane and guitarist Paul Castelluzzo. Jesse Audelo plays horns and flute, Ed Kornhauser is on keys, with the rhythm section of Sean Sobash on bass, and drummer Tim “Figg” Newton. Some props need to go to Ian Sutton at Studio West for the crisp recording job that keeps her in the spotlight while building some stylish grooves.
“I’ve Got Soul” is a great start as Jane’s vocal range and presence are commanding and the song instantly memorable; the band lays down a silk-smooth layer of jazz and she riffs above it. Horn charts and a nice Castelluzzo solo give some punch to “Good Girl,” her voice hitting the heights as she sings with plenty of soul sass, “Well you had them all ‘round town/ The bad girls, the good girls the in between / Yes sir you know it’s true/ Well, I’m gonna to find the girl you don’t know you want.” The knobs get turned down a bit for “Move Closer,” settling into mellower, but funk-infused territory, as Jane is telling her lover to move a little closer, as he is “almost there,” while strong piano and chop-chord guitar interplay build things up.
A slow bluesy ballad, “Just to Think,” proves that Jane and band can do these with plenty of flair; “He’s my everything, and beside him it’s different/ The air is sweeter,” no lyrics in the artwork or web, but Jane makes the listener believe it, and again great backing by Castelluzzo’s guitar and Kornhauser’s organ. Jane’s flashes more soulful vocal prowess on “Take Allison Home” easing into jazzy half steps and nailing the high spots with clarity and power-and without overdoing the technique. “Let Me Be Your Lover” is a big arrangement, as horns join the keys and guitar for a tune that sounds like a magnum opus in progress-and is, until it ends at the three minute mark with a fade-out, okay but maybe a lost chance for some good jazzing out by the band cats. Throttling back for a softer, satisfying jazz statement, “Sing Me to Sleep” finds Castelluzzo laying down some beautiful lines over a piano framework while Jane is gently telling the listener “Where does time go, doesn’t move too fast or slow/ But don’t lose touch in the wonders of who you know, wait and see.”
Discovery is a great listen, sure to make some new fans for Tiffany Jane and the Kicks among local jazz, blues, and pop music lovers.