Best Singer

Stephanie Crawford

Roughly a decade after ending an illustrious career in Paris, Stephanie
Crawford is gradually making inroads in the Bay Area jazz scene. She’s
still relatively unknown and unheralded, but a rare gem of a singer
nonetheless. Play her new album, The Real Thing, for any jazz
purist and you’ll hear comments about the texture of her voice —
it’s pliable, deep, sweet, impassioned, and a little pained, harking
back to famed bebop vocalist Betty Carter. In the local scene, Crawford
stands alone with her emotional heft, inimitable way of phrasing, and
unique tune selection. The Real Thing comprises the most
un-obvious of standards and old show tunes: “Cinnamon and Clove,” a
Johnny Mandel tune that Sergio Mendez covered in the 1960s; Cy
Coleman’s “When in Rome”; and a cheeky little opener called “Devil May
Care,” made popular by vocalist Bob Dorough. It’s apropos that many of
her songs defy Google searches, as Crawford seems more comfortable
dwelling in obscurity. She’s still wonderful.

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