Nicole Henry – The Nearness of You
The Nearness of You
(Banister – 2004)
by Paula Edelstein
This romantic celebration of pop and jazz standards by newcomer Nicole Henry was recorded “live” at Upstairs at the Van Dyke. If her voice sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard the lovely ingénue sing on national television commercials such as Verizon Wireless, Amtrak, Air Jamaica, Hershey’s and Sears among others! This set, one that emphasizes being near and with the one you love, opens with a sensual, languid version of Gershwin’s “Summertime” and segues right into the Hammerstein/Kern chestnut “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.”
Nicole Henry sings a great mezzo-soprano and can wring even the most forgotten sentiment from a song! Her rendition of “Old Black Magic” puts a swinging spell on you while her take on the title track is sung with romantic splendor and intimate enchanting phrasing and nuance. Her take on Brenda Russell’s “Get Here” will have you packing your bags! Even though “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is sung as an up tempo samba here, for some reason, little Stephanie Mills’ huge voice that sang “Home” in the Broadway play The Wiz just reaches out and seemed to influence Henry’s pitch and resonance on this song. Like Mills, she has a gentle but powerful voice that is pure in tone and pitch.
Accompanied by Mike Orta on piano, Paul Shewchuk on bass and Danny Burger on drums, Nicole Henry sings with passion style, class and charisma while exuding the star power radiating within her.