All Music Guide
Barbara King is one of several hundred jazz vocalists based in New York City who has little national reputation, but she is one who should be recognized. Possessing a clear, distinctive voice using very little bravado or cutesy kitsch, King has great confidence singing in the tradition of Nancy Wilson. She also has a claim to being a fledgling songwriter, as three of the tunes here are hers. But what sets her apart from the rest is the raft of accompanying musicians who support her on the album, a dazzling crew featuring, on select tracks, Romero Lubambo, John DiMartino, Carl Allen, Arturo O'Farrill, George Colligan, Rodney Jones, Eddie "E.J." Allen, Cecil Bridgewater, and Dave Valentin, among others. It would be impossible not to be inspired by this group of all-star professional jazz artists. King's material consists of mostly pop covers done well in jazz trim, with not a single standard in the bunch. Always friendly and engaging, sometimes preachy, King's style should easily appeal to the mainstream jazz audience looking for a new singer to champion.
Of King's original tunes, "Miracles" is an authentic jazz swinger, with fine interaction and teamwork from guitarist Jones, drummer Carl Allen, and bassist Kenny Davis. Heard best in her mid-to-upper range during "Perfect Timing," King is in fine form as strong as supporters Colligan and drummer Allen in tick-tock to swing beats. "Your Smile" is a samba with a larger band featuring trumpeter Eddie Allen, O'Farrill, and Valentin, the kind of tune King should do frequently. Lubambo is included on the light Paul McCartney/John Lennon standard "Let It Be," Colligan's trio skates through "I Say a Little Prayer," while low-key, late-night drama is emphasized for Bob Dylan's "Forever Young." More convincing on Donny Hathaway's "Tryin' Times" with the always excellent DiMartino, the rock-solid modal bass of Ray Drummond, and the wowing guitar of Rodney Jones, King shows her soulful side. This set is only satisfying to a certain degree, in that it is surely a scratching of the surface for Barbara King. The overwhelmingly excellent musicians she has chosen, while displaying her good taste and elevating her inspiration level, may also dwarf attention to her fine singing. She is capable of much more, as follow-up efforts with her own band should yield.
Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Timing is everything in life and never is it more important than in the competitive landscape of the music industry.
Brooklyn, New York native Barbara King hopes that the title of her debut CD carries some truth. Perfect Timing is a strong recording and critics everywhere are becoming aware of her presence prompting Lloyd Sachs of the Chicago-Sun Times to say, “Barbara King’s dusky, Sarah Vaughan-like qualities mark her as a talent to watch.
On Barbara’s CCCMG Records debut release she presents jazz listeners a bevy of outstanding interpretations of standards and four original tracks that affirms her belief and position in life today. Jazz lovers will instantly recognize memorable and present day reflective tunes such as “Tryin’ Times” and “Forever Young.” The original tracks have plenty of impact as well, highlighting the expressive vocals of the young rising star. “Miracles” and “Perfect Timing” take the personal life of a singer and put everything into proper perspective.
Barbara developed her fervor for singing at the age of seven where she sang in church and performed in school plays. Barbara also sang with the noted Vassar College Choir, her alma mater, which toured throughout the U.S. where they performed a variety of classical and popular tunes. That effort continued to develop her skills as a vocalist and after graduating from Vassar; she triumphantly returned to New York City and enrolled in Brooklyn Music School where she continued to study under the instruction of Roland Washington, a New York-based vocal coach.
The pedigree and natural talent of Barbara King will become obvious to the astute jazz listener and certainly as time passes Perfect Timing will serve as the launching pad of one the great female vocalist to come out of New York in quite some time
Keith 'MuzikMan' Hannaleck, www.jazzreview.com
O's Place Jazz Newsletter
Barbara sings eleven warm ballads. Her voice is deep and warm and she soars on many tunes. "One More Day" is one of a few spiritual tunes that resonated with us. We also liked the bossa nova beats of "Overtaken", her arrangement of "Ribbon In The Sky" and "Your Smile" featuring Dave Valentin (flute). The title track had a cool swing but our favorite is "Tryin' Times" including nice work on guitar from Rodney Jones.
D. Oscar Groomes, www.OsPlaceJazz.com
Barbara King can sing and there's no two ways about it. This lovely recording consists of 11 inspirational songs and brother are they inspirational. Miss King has a finely textured voice with range and she knows what to do with it. There are various musicians on this CD and all back this superb vocalist with grace and style. I wasn't sure about this effort, but I was more than impressed from the first note to the last. The tunes really swung and now I am convinced that music of this sort done in a jazz vein is so apropos it is just perfect. There is no cacophony here, no silly business, just a fine voice with great cats playing magnificently. I am sure that the powers that be are sitting back wherever they are just smiling and sending down kudos to Barbara King and her band mates for a wonderful recording by a solid performer.
John Gilbert, www.ejazznews.com
Interesting juxtapositions going on here. King sounds like she’s paying homage to Diana Krall paying homage to all the great black vocalists that came before. Of course, King is a black vocalist so the first pass might be a little jarring to contemporary ears that just aren’t that familiar with the classic singers. Get past all that folderol and you have a solid debut from a jazz vocalist that is in the tradition and can wear that mantle without it being a cop out. Straight down the middle, but with all the trimmings, the classic jazzbo will be unknowingly knocked out by this until reading the small print and finding King surrounded herself with nothing but the best. Clearly one of the classier debuts in quite a while.
(CCC Music Group), Volume 31/Number 359, October 24, 2008
Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher, ©2008 Midwest Record; www.midwestrecord.com
Barbara King is a New York native with amazing Sarah Vaughn-like vocals who makes one very impressive debut with Perfect Timing presenting jazzy interpretations of some well known pop standards along with several originals making this one of the better jazz vocal albums released this year. Making this album a promising success is the fine cast of musicians King uses to produce this gem. Included here are pianists George Colligan and Arturo O’Farrill as well as Dorsey “Rob” Robinson, flautist Dave Valentin appears as special guest and there’s trumpeter Eddie Allen and Jay Branford on reeds just to name a few.
This is one very fine recording with many highlights but I will start with the sensuous love ballad, “Overtaken” where King’s lyrics are diced with a bit of scatting and backed up by some beautiful guitar work from Romero Lubambo. King takes the Lennon/McCartney classic “Let It Be” and gives it new life with her reaching vocals. Dionne Warwick would be proud of the way King voices her signature tune “I Say A Little Prayer.” Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” gets a mild treatment here though King does reach the high notes often.
Two of the best pieces on this disc are King originals where the artist shines all over. The title tune “Perfect Timing,” though brief, has a wonderful melody and very jazzy beat that one will love. The highlight of the album has to be the Latin jazz number “Your Smile” featuring Arturo O’Farrill on piano, bassist Rueben Rodriguez, Phoenix Rivera on percussions and Dave Valentin on a magical flute. The lady provides her best performance here including voicing lyrics in Spanish as she follows a nice salsa rhythm.
She ends the album with a delicious rendition of Stevie Wonder’s standard “Ribbon In The Sky” singing to Colligan’s piano and Fender Rhodes accompaniment and guest trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater’s brief phrasings. Kudos to Barbara King for she has put together a compelling session of jazz vocals that will be well received by critics and audiences alike.
Edward Blanco, Improvijazzation Nation
We all know the old saw about the DJ who doesn't "look" like he/she "sounds"... well, on this splendid musical outing, Ms. King doesn't "sound" like she "looks"... though her album picture is very flattering, you would never guess the TOTAL deepness in her vocals from that picture... I mean, it's just astounding... heavy-duty spirit flows through every line she sings, and she'll capture your heart & soul by the end of the very first track! She'll have you reminiscing about Sarah Vaughn or Ella type performances in no time... 11 tracks, 4 of which are originals... in fact, it's the title track (an original, track 7) which immediately took my pick as favorite... some really nice rhythmic shifts, & Barbara is right out there in front of it . "Your Smile ", with it's gentle Latin persuasion, came in a close second. Her debut CD is flawless... recording is excellent and her performances are full of soul and verve. If you're looking for a perfect gift for your music lover whose prime attraction is energetic jazz vocals, you'll find it's "perfect timing"... the CD release is 11/25/2008, so get that gift NOW! I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
By Dick Metcalf www.freehostia.com
A first recording for Barbara King. Could have fooled me. There’s a kind of confidence, I think, that you can gain over time. And then, there’s the kind of confidence you’re born with. Ms. King sounds as if she’s been doing this forever.
The press blurb says Ms. King is, “…lighting the path for a new generation of fans by advancing the confluence of jazz and inspirational music.”
Neither Jazz nor inspirational music is worth a hoot if the music doesn’t get the toe tapping, the head nodding, or the fingers snapping. I’ll just bet the Choir Director at the church where Ms. King says she developed a “passion for singing at the age of seven” knew that a whole lot better than me.
What’s really cool (well, for me) is that several of the tracks are written by Ms. King, and yet they sounded so familiar, I could have sworn they were covers. The opening track, “Miracles,” is a track with a positive message - “My miracle is on the way.” The track, “Perfect Time” seems to play off Ecclesiastes, urging patience and faith (perhaps that’s why the message sounds so familiar).
The point is - if the music isn’t listenable, one doesn’t get the message in the first place. And Ms. King and her band are very, very listenable. Oh my, yes.
With some of New York’s finest musicians backing her, including Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet, John DiMartino on piano, Rodney Jones on guitar, and flautist Dave Valentin - this is a very strong debut for Ms. King.
It’s a perfect choice for the spiritual side of any jazz lover. This disc is highly recommended.
CD Review: www.girlsingers.org/
Barbara King's debut album is beautiful introduction to her warm and smoky voice. The songs on Perfect Timing are beautiful and soothing, a lovely fusion of classic jazz, inspirational music, and even gentle bossa nova ("Overtaken").
While the album doesn't offer anything particularly new, it does provide a welcome respite to one's weary ears. King's voice is perhaps comparable to Sarah Vaughan; and if that's any indicator, this could mark the beginning of a very successful career. There are no surprises here, simply soothing, soulful jazz.
John Shelton Ivany, Top 21 – A weekly guide to the music industry’s buzz and latest releases; www.jsitop21.com
Urban Network On-line Magazine
Ms. King is an inspiring new voice on the scene, a jazz singer from the church who reflects a stillness that only true faith can bring. That much is clear in her song selections (including Donny Hathaway's "Tryin' Times" and Bob Dylan's "Forever Young") and the resonant depth of her instrument. Whether she is finding fresh arranging twists to apply to the Beatles' oft-done "Let it Be" (altering words and melodies) and Bacharach & David's "I Say A Little Prayer" (as a brisk waltz), she brings a lot of TLC to this debut. Having her back are an enviable assemblage of jazz veterans that include trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, guitarist Rodney Jones, drummer Carl Allen, bassist Kenny Davis, pianist Arturo O'Farrill and flautist Dave Valentin. As fine as her interpretations are ("Ribbon in the Sky" as a slow samba), I suspect it will be the title track "Perfect Timing" that leaves the most lasting impression. "All the answers you are seeking / All the needs of your heart / In time it will all come together / Every minute, every second, every part" (done in a dual-tempo jazz version and a CD-closing "Meditation Mix" of cello, piano and percussion).
Urban Network On-line Magazine – December 2008; www.urbannetwork.com