C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

A debut recording, Introducing Julie Benko, brings to ear another polymath, Julie Benko, whose experience boasts acting for stage (Including Broadway) and screen, singing, and composing. She is a bit polyglot, with a certain fluency in Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew, a cultural mixture that lends Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” a certain multicultural panache. Benko and pianist/partner Jason Yeager craft from the Porter tune a melancholy tango infused with a hint of Eastern European charm from JP Jofre’s bandoneon and Jason Anick’s violin. Benko’s recital also includes deft readings of Porter’s “I love Paris” and the Paul/Mercer confections “Lonesome Polecat” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Day.” Benko’s take on John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” is plaintive and stark, as if the song was written by Tim Hardin for Karen Dalton. Benko’s inclusion of the Fred Hersch/Norma Winstone composition “A Wish,” does a proper homage to this standard-in-the-making. Brimming with a fresh creativity and youthful vitality, Introducing Julie Benko indeed introduces us to something…and someone special.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *