Picks and Pans Review: Patti Austin

UPDATED 03/12/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 03/12/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT

Avant Gershwin



Gershwin's got more than rhythm on Patti Austin's full-throttled follow-up to her '02 Grammy-nominated disc For Ella. Recorded live with Germany's WDR Big Band, Avant recasts Gershwin classics like "Summertime" and "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" into clever medleys and uptempo showstoppers, keeping the swing-era rivalries between the brass and reed sections while updating the beat with more complex modern ideas. Austin—an '80s R&B hitmaker with songs like "Baby Come to Me"—commands attention like a '40s screen siren in close-up. Throughout she radiates style and drama, singing with poise and remarkable energy, whether it's the furious scatting on "Lady Be Good" or her surprising makeover of "Swanee."
[STARS 3.5]


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