Such is her reputation, that just the merest mention of Carmen Lundy‘s name is likely to elicit a frisson of excitement from hardcore connoisseurs of female jazz vocalists. She debuted back in 1985 with the sensational Blackhawk LP, ‘Good Morning Kiss,’ which established the Florida-born chanteuse as one of the brightest young talents in the jazz firmament. Since then, Lundy, who’s 62 now, has been carving out her own unique niche in the jazz world as a songwriter and pianist as well as a singer with a series of acclaimed albums. Since 2005 she’s been releasing her recordings on her own label Afrasia and this 12-track new opus – the fifteenth long player of her career – is the sixth for her own imprint, following in the wake of 2014’s ‘Soul To Soul.’
Lundy’s voice has acquired a darker lustre as she’s matured as well as a deeper soulfulness and on ‘Code Noir’ she offers a stunning showcase of her unique artistry. Here, she’s accompanied by pianist Patrice Rushen, bassist Ben Williams, guitarist Jeff Parker, and drummer, Kendrick Scott, who provide simpatico support throughout. ‘Another Chance’ is a meditative opener complete with slightly eerie atmospherics that accompany Lundy’s sonorous vocals but if that’s too mournful and introspective for some listeners, then the fluid, mid-tempo ‘Live Out Loud’ is much brighter and more extrovert. Another side to Lundy is shown on the more strident ‘Black & Blues,’ which seems pugnacious in comparison to the delicate ballad, ‘Whatever It Takes,’ featuring some lovely nylon-stringed, Hispanic guitar from Jeff Parker. On the excellent, hard-swinging, ‘Afterglow’ – which is driven by Ben Williams’ fast-paced walking bass line – Lundy shows her true jazz credentials with some athletic scatting. ‘The Island, Sea & You,’ is another highlight with its rolling groove and so too is the Latin-flavoured ‘Have A Little Faith.’ All in all, this is a fine return from Carmen Lundy and one that will undoubtedly please her long-time fans.