You really have to hand it to saxophonist/vocalist Grace Kelly. Not only is she a fine musician on multiple fronts, she’s also a polished entertainer, a savvy self-promoter, and a real marketing maven. That broad skill set serves her well on this cross-platform project.
GO TiME: Live in LA, like its two Brooklyn counterparts released in 2018, aims at narrowing the gap separating the senses. Capitalizing on the popularity of her PopUp video series and eyeing the way that younger listeners tend to consume music, Kelly delivers an album that’s both audibly and visually appealing. Those who prefer a traditional listening experience may just end up sticking with the music, but watching the way she works, via video footage, allows for a greater appreciation of her artistry.
Continuing down the pop-jazz path she’s been walking for some time, Kelly moves comfortably from originals to jazz standards to the music of rock icons. Right from the opening electro-groove workout “Unbroken Wings,” there’s a gleam in her horn and a slick knowingness in the music. Neither of those qualities dissipates, regardless of where Kelly roams. She invites tap dancer Sarah Reich into the picture for a spin on Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t (My Baby),” gives the Beatles’ “Come Together” a glossy and soulful finish, delivers a heartfelt performance of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and closes out the album proper with a Reich-enhanced journey through Chick Corea’s “Spain.” A remix of the leadoff number and a bonus track—the upbeat “Lemons Make Lemonade,” featuring Jon Batiste—sweeten the deal on the audio end.
While a few still insist on bemoaning the loss of the straight-ahead star that Grace Kelly could’ve been, the many continue to follow her to the outskirts of jazz and beyond. Her reach and outreach are both commendable.