It's a Jazz Day

“Sweet Control”

(La Pantera)

If you’ve heard Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony,” Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop” or Donald Byrd’s “Stepping Into Tomorrow” — and chances are good that you have — you’ve heard Stephanie Spruill. The singer’s sterling pipes have graced hundreds of hit records, she’s performed at the White House for three different administrations, and she’s received the Living Legends of Jazz Award from the city of Los Angeles. Like her contemporaries chronicled in the film 20 Feet From Stardom, Spruill was better known by studio cats and industry insiders than the public at large. Jazz has long been an important part of her tool kit — she recorded with Nat Adderley, Johnny Hammond Smith and Gene Harris, among others — and it’s at the heart of her recording It’s a Jazz Day (La Pantera). Spruill interprets standards including “Dindi,” “Round Midnight” and “Here’s to Life,” as well as some original selections. She penned “Sweet Control” with Jeff Lorber and Dianne Quander for vocalist Jon Lucien’s 1991 release Listen Love, and reprises it here with her own band. A lights-low ambience sets the mood for Spruill’s seductive vocals, as she goes from quiet and controlled to a more impassioned delivery.

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