Live at Scullers

I was in no way prepared for how much I wasn’t going to like this album. The cover didn’t incline me to think I wouldn’t appreciate the music made by the pretty young woman depicted there, cast in blue light. And the jazz standards included on the set list of songs recorded live at a famous Boston jazz club made me think I was in for some pretty good sounds by a singer/songwriter/sax player. Grace Kelly is only 20, but she’s played behind some pretty big jazz names already. And she’s got real chops, having earned the regard of more seasoned sax men like Phil Woods and David Sanborn. But when she sings, it takes a different set of ears than mine to appreciate what she’s doing. From her annoying vocals on the opening track—“Please Don’t Box Me In”—to the self-indulgent interplay with her backup singers on “Falling,” this album plummets whenever Kelly removes her lips from her sax to begin singing. “Searching for Peace” is an extended instrumental, as is “The Way You Look Tonight,” both of which explain to this listener, at least, how it was that Kelly gained her following in the first place. It wasn’t for her vocals.