There is hardly anything as common in jazz as the inclusion of a bossa nova tune on a vocal album, so what makes “Jazz Samba Project” by Veronneau stand out from the crowd? First, there is the sensual voice of Quebec native Lynn Veronneau, which comes close to rivaling that of the great Astrud Gilberto. Then there is the spirit of the album, an homage of sorts. The members of the group, based in Washington D.C., realized that one of the greatest albums in jazz history, Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz’s “Jazz Samba,” had been recorded at All Souls Church in Washington in 1962. Once they decided to celebrate the album’s fiftieth anniversary, the group began rehearsals at the same church.
Although the CD includes three songs from “Jazz Samba” – “E Luxo So,” “One Note Samba” and “Samba Triste” – this is by no means just a rehashing of history. In fact, Veronneau ventures outside of bossa nova far enough to nicely cover a Bob Marley tune, “Waiting in Vain.” But the group is also respectful of tradition, offering gorgeous renditions of two of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s finest songs, “Wave” and “Meditation.” The core group, which includes two superb guitarists, Ken Avis and David Rosenblatt, and drummer Pete Walby, is augmented by Jeff Antoniuk on tenor sax, Alejandro Lucini, percussion and Jim McFalls, trombone. Antoniuk only plays on four tunes but his wonderful melodic playing may remind you of the style of a saxophonist named Getz.