Alma Micic: That Old Feeling // ****

That Old Feeling is the fourth album from New York based, Serbian, vocalist Alma Micic. The nine songs, including six standards, give Micic ample opportunity to establish her vocal talents – a straightahead approach, subtle phrasing, a relaxed vibe and a welcome lack of scat. She’s accompanied by an excellent quartet, including husband Rale on guitar and Tom Beckham on vibraphone. Beckham’s contributions are particularly noteworthy, adding brightness to songs like the title track and Cry Me A River.

Micic delivers the standards well: her vocals have an understated swing that suits the melodies, especially on her readings of Moonglow and Honeysuckle Rose. She even makes that old warhorse Estate sound seductive, with the assistance of Rale’s acoustic guitar. Beckham arranged Rodgers and Hart’s Blue Moon: he gives the song an upbeat drive and a cheery optimism that Micic reflects in her singing.

It’s three other songs that give the album a real lift, moving it beyond just another recording of the American Songbook and into more original territory. Micic’s own Ne Zaboravi Me (which translates as Don’t Forget Me) and the traditional Russian Romany Solnishko (Sunshine) both evoke a real sense of longing. Her version of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon captures and amplifies the romance of the original, helped by the combination of Rale Micic’s acoustic guitar and Beckham’s vibes (there’s also a lovely bass solo from Corcoran Holt). Young’s compositions are surprisingly under-represented in jazz: Micic’s fine performance makes it clear that the Young songbook is worth mining by jazz singers looking to expand their horizons. It’s good to hear Micic blazing a trail into new sources while keeping her links with the standards.

That Old Feeling; Harvest Moon; Moonglow; Cry Me A River; Honeysuckle Rose; Ne Zaboravi Me; Estate; Blue Moon; Solnishko (35.31)Personnel
Alma Micic (v); Rale Micic (g); Corcoran Holt (b); Tom Beckham (vib); Johnathan Blake (d). New York, no date.

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