Ann Hampton Callaway’s self-reinvention from a lachrymose piano-bar chanteuse into a jazz swinger progressed a step further on Tuesday evening at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, where she added a new pose to her arsenal of attitudinal stances: pugilistic bossiness.
Punching out “The Best Is Yet to Come,” that optimistic swinger by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, she bore down heavily on the phrase “Come the day you’re mine,” as if aggressively asserting her claim in a romantic gold rush.
“Comes Love,” in which she emphasized the phrase “Nothing can be done,” acquired the same toughness. Ms. Callaway, whose honeyed voice used to verge on tears much of the time, has clearly developed emotional armor. Although a talented pianist, she never once touched a keyboard.
Her two-week engagement at Dizzy’s coincides with the release of her latest album, “At Last” (Telarc), a collection she described as “love songs for adults.” Seven of the 10 songs she performed at Tuesday’s early show are included on that album, which features the same musicians who accompanied her in concert: Ted Rosenthal on piano, Jay Leonhart on bass and Victor Lewis on drums.
Two songs from the album — Joni Mitchell’s “Carey” and Stevie Nicks’s “Landslide” — found Ms. Callaway putting her stamp on soft-rock classics. “Carey,” given a percussive backbone, lost much of its intimacy. “Landslide,” slowed up and translated from a guitar ballad into a piano-based one, revolved around the words “I’m getting older too.” In spirit it is still a very young song.
Ms. Callaway saved her big guns for the end of the show. In the tradition of Al Jarreau she treated the Chick Corea showpiece “Spain” as a platform for displaying supersonic vocal pyrotechnics attached to music whose color and flamenco inflections evoke a romantic travel poster for Iberian climes.
An altogether different voice, chesty and declamatory, was unveiled for “At Last,” which Ms. Callaway belted in the Etta James manner. As she revealed the full size of her chameleonic voice, you had the sense of a performer heaving a cathartic sigh of relief.
Ann Hampton Callaway continues through March 1 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, 60th Street and Broadway; (212) 258-9595, jalc.org/dccc.