Sylvia Bennett – For You

Apr. 21, 2017

I have heard a few of vocalist Sylvia Bennett’s musical offerings in the past, and they’ve always been of the quality that jazz purists highly appreciate. Her soft, sultry vocals serve to complement the material in almost majestic fashion. Here on For You (her latest release), she delves into a really contemporary, smooth style as she presents some very creative originals and smartly interpretative covers, turning the latter into something smooth jazz can own despite being birthed by traditionalists.

Bennett first caught my ear when she released her 2011 Sonríe album, a seductive and exotic Latin jazz endeavor, sung entirely in Spanish. Being such a trademark in straight-ahead music, this was the first real departure of sorts into a world she hadn’t extensively explored prior to the album. Needless to say, she knocked it out of the park. Now, she sets out to do the same with this new smooth album that will find many smooth jazzers doing a double take.

Leading off with her Latin-styled rhythmic and very melodic title track, the vocalist sails gently but emphatically through this tasteful set of tunes, intent on maintaining quality and class all along the way. Her equally rich and tantalizing “Stay With Me” immediately follows and has that hypnotic spell of love all over it — the perfect tune for lovers (as are so many others here).

Another Latin-tinged musical caress comes in the form of “Two Hearts One Soul” and simply sweeps you away in its almost celestial comeliness.

The key word for this CD is melody. There are tons of it, and you are actually riveted to the project almost without knowing it.

Taking it from the soft and romantic setting to the dance floor, the up-tempo “I Never Thought” nonetheless holds on to that sexy quality she brings to this album as it gyrates and moves in an infectious groove light.

Traditional tracks like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Look of Love” get wonderful attention as she moves to place her own alluring touch on them. Does it ever work!

The track “Smile” is a mid-tempo feel-good, lilting piece that reminds you of how important it is to use a smile to chase away the blues. So fitting and happy.

All in all, Bennett works her magic on this album that should endear itself to all who lend an ear. It has charm, body, texture, and oozes with exoticism. For one who is not a regular listener of traditional or straight-ahead jazz — or even easy listening — Bennett captured and held me, and I couldn’t have been happier to be her captive. A+++ effort! –- Ronald Jackson