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First Instrument (1995)

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Rachelle Ferrell

Rachelle Ferrell made her name performing R&B, but this strictly acoustic jazz CD is her earliest recording. Her voice is quite soulful, making her later shift to R&B less of a surprise in hindsight, but Ferrell seems quite unsure of how to use her wide range, and her improvisations are often quite eccentric. Her lack of warmth and subtlety (along with a tendency to scream and screech in unexpected spots without a buildup) makes it difficult to listen to several of the numbers on this standards-oriented set. Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and Wayne Shorter on tenor make worthwhile cameo appearances, but Rachelle Ferrell at that point in her career did not really sound ready for prime time, despite her potential. ~ Scott Yanow