Learning that singer Julie Mahendran's studied privately with Manhattan Transfer's Cheryl Bentyne, didn't come as much of a surprise after having heard Mahendran in action. But, where Manhattan Transfer is refined and more than a bit sleep inducing, Mahendran's refined and quite charming in a way that reminds me of the great Jon Hendricks. It's rarely a good idea to delve too deeply into academic jazz studies and here and there you can hear how doing this has affected this former Berklee student, but most of the time she is just plain awesome. Backed only by drummer Daniel Skakun and John Taylor on bass, she treats the listener to a clever mix of standards, covers and originals, among them I'll Be Seeing You, pop artist George Michael's Kissing A Fool and her own standout track Killer. Proving that she too finds Mr. Hendricks well worth honoring, there's an impressive version of his take on Miles Davis' classic Freddie Freeloader. Intricate vocal arrangements, solid backup from the band and nice sound by engineer John Blerot, provides a great backdrop for this gifted Canadian.
/Douglas Norstrom (douglaz.com)