Donna Elise Scott is a versatile and very appealing singer with her own sound. 2015’s Somehow I Knew was an excellent debut and now the recently released Carnival builds on her earlier success.

            While there is plenty of variety to be heard on the eight selections that comprise Carnival, the results are consistently rewarding. The CD begins with the title cut which is well-named because it has the feel of a Brazilian carnival. Flutist Wouter Kellerman is prominent on this danceable and infectious performance which also has a fine solo from pianist Raul E. Blanco.

            The second selection, “Pennies From Heaven,” has Ms. Scott swinging her way soulfully through the veteran standard while joined by members of the “Air It Out Horns” and the Conrad Johnson Big Band. An instrumental chorus in the middle of the performance features trombonist Nils Landgren and pianist Skip Nalia. 

            Two ballads follow: the contemporary soul piece “It’s Your Smile” (which displays the singer’s clear tone and powerful voice) and the swing era piece “Ghost Of A Chance.” The latter has tenor-saxophonist Johnny Gonzales creating a fine statement between the warm vocals.

            The forceful and blues-drenched romp “I Don’t Want You Anymore” finds Donna Scott taking an assertive vocal worthy of Ernestine Anderson. The modern ballad “After The Sunset” and the medium-tempo r&bish tune “A Tie That Binds” (which includes some fine vibes from Chase Jordan) precede the closer, a reworking of “On Green Dolphin Street.”

            No matter what the style, groove or arrangement, Donna E. Scott is heard throughout Carnival in top form. Her attractive voice is full of spirit and joy, and she always invites listeners to have as good a time enjoying her music as she clearly does whenever she sings. 

Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76


Like a real-life carnival, Ms. Scott's musical offering on this project is as colorfully vivid as suggested by the magnificent CD cover, the recorded selections and the memorable vocal and instrumental performances that are contained in this eight song set. She delivers a solid, tradition-rich performance of such classics from the Great American Songbook - "Pennies From Heaven" and "I Don't Stand A Ghost of A Chance" side by side with contemporary originals that tip the hat to the genres of Pop and R&B, without sacrificing the core elements of what a Jazz singer offers in terms of style and craft. She has the richness and "sass" of singers like Phyllis Hyman and Angela Bofill and the sophistication of Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughn, while at the same time, having her own, very deliberate style of taste and grace, without waste. If you love "feel good music" with a balance of the joyful celebration of rhythm and melody, CARNIVAL needs to be on your playlist.


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