Review by Brad Walseth
I have a tendency to get deluged by a plethora of releases by talented, but often indistinguishable female jazz singers. With such a voluminous wave of new recordings coming in every week, I often am sadly unable to find the time to review much in this genre. However, I managed to listen to Margie Notte's Just You, Just Me & Friends, in part I admit because it was recorded live at Cecil's in West Orange, NJ, and features Mr. Brooks himself on drums and the wonderful Don Braden on tenor sax and flutes, and in doing so, discovered that the young Ms. Notte is quite the vocalist herself.
With a warm, rich voice, this songbird unleashes beguiling versions of a string of beloved standards, beginning with "Too Close For Comfort" and ending with "I Thought About You." Pianist Jason Teborek and bassist Tom DiCarlo round out the backing quartet and along with Cecil Brooks III on drums, do admirably refined work in erecting their singer an attractive framework to work with. Of course, Don Braden nearly steals the show every time he plays, but he never grandstands or attempts to steal the spotlight, it's just that he's that good.
Delicious versions of tunes like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "Cry Me a River" and "Just You, Just Me" are attractive and romantic enough to make you want to find a cozy spot to "cuddle and coo." Notte has an impressive way of inhabiting her songs, with touches of Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn and, dare I say, pop star Karen Carpenter, coloring her gracious and understated way of singing a song. Notte has said she had a youthful dream to perform live at Cecil's with Cecil and Don, and she has not only achieved her dream, but produced an enjoyable recording that will please many fans of female jazz singers. Whether, Ms. Notte can take her talent on to the next level of public acclaim is yet to be determined, especially considering the obstacles facing all young jazz singers in these times, but she has an appreciable vocal talent, a nice ear for material and an understanding of the importance of choosing her backing band, so she has a step up on many and I for one will be wishing her the best of luck as she continues her career.