“Please welcome to the stage, the wonderful Miss Germaine Bazzle,” Lawrence Sieberth graciously introduces New Orleans’ high priestess of jazz vocals to begin the album Swingin’ at Snug. Bazzle gets right to living up to the CD’s title, swinging hard on the classic “After You’ve Gone.” The release is a follow-up to her terrific 2015 disc, It’s Magic, which includes those musicians—longtime cohort pianist Sieberth, bassist Peter Harris and drummer Simon Lott—who contributed to its punch. This night at Snug Harbor boasts a twist with the addition of guitarist Todd Duke, whose expertise for accompanying a vocalist is renowned for his work with John Boutté. Duke is a great match not only with Bazzle but the entire band. He takes it out on his solo during the first cut while Bazzle urges him on. Her phrasing and unique scatting make this song jump.
The vocalist turns next to a more obscure tune, the great Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not.” During several sections, its staggered, almost march-like rhythms, punctuated by the inventive Lott, certainly set it apart from more usual interpretations.
Pianist Sieberth opens “I Just Found Out About Love,” with a New Orleans flavor, trills and all. As serious as Bazzle is as a vocalist, she allows her sense of humor and the storytelling elements of a song’s lyrics to shine through. “I like it, I like it,” she sings with a grin in her voice on this standard.
Of course, Bazzle, who doesn’t just front a combo but becomes an instrumental element in its interactions, brings great elegance and a sense of drama to ballads as heard on her rendition of “When Your Lover Has Gone,” on which she successfully uses her voice’s lower register.
Swingin’ at Snug stands as a typical night for Germaine Bazzle at the Frenchmen Street club, which translates into an extraordinary performance.