Vocal Jazz, Old and New
The ethereal jazz singer Jeanne Lee would have been 80 this year. A re-release of her duet album with New England Conservatory titan Ran Blake, “The Newest Sound You Never Heard,” more than 40 years after its 1966-7 recording, reveals a thoroughly modern singer unafraid to sound like no one but herself. This vocal individuality is also one of the charms of Chinese singer Annie Chen, whose new octet recording, “Secret Treetop,” sounds like no one else. Backed by a crew of killer NYC jazz cats, Chen bops her way around catchy melodies and unusual harmonies. Both she and the late Ms. Lee remind us that the human voice remains one of the music world’s most interesting instruments.