By Kabir Sehgal
Kathy Sanborn is a force in contemporary jazz—a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, producer, and recording artist with seven albums to her credit and a uniquely lush and powerfully emotive vocal style. Sanborn, who won an American Songwriting Award in 2015 and has been likened to Cool Jazz legends such as Anita O’Day, draws musical inspiration from the past while pushing the evolution of the genre ever forward. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Recollecting You, an album that manages to feel cutting edge and deeply reverential all at once. As with much of Sanborn’s work, the driving energy behind the music here is the all-powerful stimulus of romance—Sanborn herself describes the album as reflecting “the many facets of love.” The songs cover a range of romantic sensations, like waiting breathlessly for a lover to arrive for a rendezvous, getting swept up in the heightened sensations of a new affair, feeling the void of a lover lost, and finding a path back to love in the aftermath, yet it also touches on the love born of family and friendship.
“Another Sultry Night” is quintessential Kathy Sanborn: sensuality as a musical expression. The artist describes the setting as a hot, humid Southern evening with the anticipation of a night of passion hanging in the air. “Falling” is an achingly beautiful meditation on losing oneself to a romantic fantasy and the possibility of it ever becoming real. “Kissed (Shoobop Shoobop),” with its upbeat tempo and melody, is an expression of Sanborn’s own positive outlook and faith in our ability to carry on no matter what comes our way. The title track is a celebratory musical homage to the past and to its remembrance that was inspired by the experience of cherished friend of the artist who lost the love of her life. The theme of “Heart Don’t Tell” is the sensual energy of an unrequited, hidden attraction and the risk of its discovery, and “Reflections in The Rain” conjures up the emotional paradox of a broken hearted New Yorker emotionally isolated in a teeming city of millions. “The Boys Are Back Again” is a paean to the gift of absent, beloved family members joyously returned to the fold. “”Always You” is about the phenomenon of love hiding in plain sight until finally recognized and embraced, and “Guiding Light” is a grateful acknowledgment of a person or spiritual force that can be leaned on and trusted to shepherd us through the vicissitudes of life. The final track, “Recollecting You” (Snowfall Version), explores love as the fundamental and immortal interplay of two connected souls.
Between the irresistibly silky vocals and the muted, neo-Cool Jazz flavor of the accompanying music, Recollecting You is a romantic tour-de-force that I defy you to pause once you start listening to it. Sanborn hopes her audience will “identify with the songs, and treasure the messages as well as its melodies.” Mission accomplished.
Multi-GRAMMY & Latin GRAMMY Award winner