Macy Gray’s life in music has come full circle. She started as a jazz singer in her twenties and now, after a slew of pop and R&B-influenced records, and work as a respected film and television actress, she’s back to jazz.
Her new – and first – jazz record, Stripped, recorded for Norman Chesky of Chesky Records, was made using a single binaural microphone, which mimics how the human ear hears sound, with no overdubs or post-recording tweaking. The result is a fresh and spontaneous collection of songs, (‘What you hear is what you get,” Chesky said.), heralding a welcome return to her music roots.
With Macy Gray, no matter what she’s singing, what sets her apart is her voice. Oh, that voice. Smoky, raspy, nuanced … her phrasing is impeccable, every note purposeful and ripe with feeling. Her remarkable voice lends new layers to unexpected covers (you really need to listen to her take on Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”), and her reworking of her 1991 Grammy-winning hit, “I Try” is simply marvelous in a jazz setting. Teamed up with a top-notch ensemble that consists of Ari Hoenig: drums; Daryl Johns: bass; Russell Malone: guitar; Wallace Roney: trumpet, it is evident she is comfortable and at home with the conversational interplay that is a hallmark of the genre. This is a delicious record.
Macy Gray, singing jazz in the mountains. This is the stuff of dreams.