Laura Welland Press Review


Bass World — Magazine of the International Society of Bassists
Volume 28, Number One, 2004
Review by Paul Pearce

It's your debut vocal recording. Who would you pick for your rhythm section, assuming you could have your choice? Let's see, how about Bill Mays on piano (former music director for the late Sarah Vaughan), first-call bassist John Clayton (Diana Krall's favorite), and on drums Joe LaBarbera, Bill Evans' last drummer. This dream team trio is a recipe for a swinging and dynamite session, and it does not disappoint.

West coast bassist Laura Welland has released her first album as a vocalist in the nicely packaged collection of standards with a couple of surprises. Laura has a pure, cool and clear delivery with touches of Blossom Dearie and an early Rosemary Clooney. She has a strong feeling for the tempos and sings with sensitive phrasing.

The opening track, Honeysuckle Rose, begins with a bass/voice duet that moves into a medium swing with Welland taking the first couple of choruses followed by pianist Fuller. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter has pianist Bill Mays laying down a lovely path for the vocals. She follows his lead with a cool interpretation of this standard. May's finds the groove and stretches out. I'll Be Seeing You is taken at a slow pace and with a full introduction (rarely recorded). Beautiful work by both Laura and Bill.

Love Is Never Out Of Season, the title track, is a gem. Not often heard these days, this piece lets Welland have some fun with its cute lyrics. Another standard, with full introduction, When I Grow Too Old to Dream, opens with beautiful arcos played by John Clayton to accompany Laura's sweet treatment of the lyrics. Nice.

Drummer Joe LaBarbera gets to display his wares with some fours and a solo in I Got The Sun in The Morning, a tight arrangement with precise stick work. A pensive arrangement of Dream a Little Dream of Me gives bassist Clayton a chance to play a gorgeous solo, and so in tune! Pianist May's keyboard touch and pedaling is something to hear.

Welland's take on You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To sets the stage for the trio to really lay it down, as Fuller, Clayton and LaBarbera do their thing. And she can scat! Very, very nice! The pianist and singer open I'm Confessin' as a lovely duet, followed by some neat stride work by Bill Mays. Be My Love is a medium-tempo arrangement that is sung straight ahead leading into a romp by the trio. While We're Young begins as a lilting waltz and quickly moves into a cool groove that features the swinging piano of Larry Fuller. Bet you can't keep your foot from tapping! The set closes with If I Had You, which may be the jewel in the crown of this recording. Pretty interplay between Clayton and Mays provide a wonderful ending to this upscale project.

Laura Welland is a unique and talented artist. Not only is she an accomplished bassist, she plays piano and trumpet. But that is not all; she trained as a mechanical engineer and holds several patents. Ms. Welland sold her company in order to follow her dream of playing jazz full time. As she said, "It's never too late to follow your heart."

The trio members for this project are legends. Bill Mays has played and recorded with many jazz greats, including Red Mitchell, Gerry Mulligan, Freddie Hubbard, the Mel Lewis orchestra and Sarah Vaughan. He is also the ISB's favorite piano player! Bassist John Clayton (who also produced this session) began his illustrious career by studying with bass giant Ray Brown and has played or recorded with just about everyone. This lengthy list includes Count Bassie, Monty Alexander, Milt Jackson, Benny Green, Natalie Cole and Diana Krall. John also co-leads The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Drummer Joe LaBarbera was with the last edition of the Bill Evans Trio and continues to be one of the most in-demand drummers on both coasts. Pianist Larry Fuller, who plays on three tracks, was Ray Brown's last trio along with drummer George Fludas.

Congratulations to all involved for this highly successful venture.