Dawn Lambeth sings melodically, without strain, floating easily. She doesn’t attempt to make each song into a deep dramatic statement; she doesn’t turn the lyrics into scat excursions; she honors the tune rather than demolishing it . . . her warm voice is a pleasure, never monochromatic but subtly full of colors and shadings.
She is serious and yearning on I COVER THE WATERFRONT here (resisting the temptation to copy Billie Holiday’s patented gestures), chipper and amused on DON’T FENCE ME IN . . . whatever she sings, she illuminates. Dawn is also a rare bird, someone hardly over-publicized, although she is well-loved in California . . . but she is worth following, as these videos will prove. I have heard murmurings of a new DVD where she appears with the superb pianist Chris Dawson . . . I will tell you more when I know it.
Both of these performances come from the March 2012 Jazz Bash by the Bay / Dixieland Monterey.
The first, I COVER THE WATERFRONT, finds her with her friends the Reynolds Brothers: Marc Caparone, cornet; John Reynolds, guitar; Ralf Reynolds, washboard; Katie Cavera, string bass:
Delicacy, not melodrama characterizes her approach to that song — a winning naturalness.
And she’s just as comfortable with the broader sound and the broader comedy of the High Sierra Jazz Band accompanying her on DON’T FENCE ME IN. The High Sierras — for this occasion — are Pieter Meijers, reeds; Bryan Shaw and Marc Caparone, cornets; Howard Miyata, trombone; Stan Huddleston, banjo; Charlie Castro, drums; Earl McKee, sousaphone; Bruce Huddleston, piano:
Sweet swing with expert rhythmic grace, heart, and wit . . .
May your happiness increase.