‘Kristen sings and plays and rings’

My favorite track is “Save the Bones for Henry Jones,” a tune about food by New Orleans banjoman Danny Barker and Vernon Lee. Kristen’s carefree treatment appetizes and satisfies all at once, and for dessert she serves up a funny spoken-word finale.

‘Waters of March’

The saucy syncopation of Jobim’s “Waters of March” is accentuated by Kristen’s marimba and triangle playing. She has fun singing the litany of things (“a stick, a stone, a sliver of glass”) carried into the city by the March rains, and she takes pleasure in “the promise of spring… the promise of life, the joy in your heart.”

That Brazilian tone poem is followed by a bright and upbeat vibraphone version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.” Kristen states the familiar melody straightforwardly on the vibes, and when she hits the bridge, we’re off and running. Her husband, composer David McGuire, plays piano on “Night and Day” and appears again on Chick Corea’s “What Game Shall We Play Tonight?”

Kristen plays drums with her hands to kick off Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia,” which features trumpeter Paul Smoker in fine form before Kristen herself turns in a tasty multi-textured trap set solo.

‘Shiny Stockings’

The Count Basie Band was Ray’s favorite, and Kristen sings two tunes identified with the cats from Kansas City. “Girl Talk” is a lilting look at loquacious ladies pumped up by Paul Hofmann’s piano, and “Shiny Stockings” pays homage to the great Ella Fitzgerald with a note-for-note recreation of her scat solo.

Rodgers & Hart’s “Lover” lets Smoker improvise with verve on his horn answered by Hofmann’s pulsating piano and a cymbal-sweetened drum interlude. Bassist Dave Arenius pushes the entire disc forward with his propulsive yet understated bass lines.

“What Game Shall We Play Tonight?” spotlights Kristen’s good vibes delightfully dueting with her keyboardist husband. The disc concludes with “And So it Goes,” a reverential ballad by Billy Joel benefiting from Kristen’s unadorned vocal approach.

All in all, this entertaining yet improv-laden set would surely make Ray Shiner plenty proud of his little girl.

To purchase a copy of Kristen’s disc, visit kristenshinermcguire.com.

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