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Texas-based jazz vocalist Laura Ainsworth truly dazzles on new CD

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The last thing anyone would expect from a jazz album would be a cover of a song from '80s New Wave vet Marshall Crenshaw. But on her latest record, Keep It To Yourself, vocalist Laura Ainsworth does just that, stripping away the power pop from Crenshaw's 1991 original and instead focusing on its yearning romanticism. Gifted with a sultry, swoon-inducing croon, Ainsworth can sing any words and command attention; given lines of poetry from Crenshaw's golden pen, and she truly dazzles.

However, Keep It To Yourself is about much more than just one inspired moment. In fact, the whole album is among the year's most consistently engaging jazz releases, performed with class and heartfelt passion. On “Midnight Sun," Ainsworth's gorgeously fragile singing soars atop the dreamy piano melodies; “Personality," on the other hand, displays her playful side.

Ainsworth is based in Dallas, Texas, an area not known for any notable jazz scenes; nevertheless, jazz has been a large part of her life since childhood. “I grew up in the family of a Big Band musician—my dad was jazz saxophone/clarinetist Billy Ainsworth," Ainsworth revealed. “I got to hear great singers from an early age. Our house would resonate with the voices of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Jack Jones. and many more. I got to see some of them live, too; my mom would take me on 'comp nights' when my dad was playing in the house band at the Fairmont Venetian Room."

In addition to singing jazz, Ainsworth writes one-liners and song parodies for her own prep service, the Comedy Wire. As with jazz, Ainsworth's talent for humor is rooted in her youth. “It was the same with comedy songs; my dad used to bring home every silly or satirical novelty record, from Stan Freberg to Ray Stevens, and I'm sure that's what inspired me later on to write and perform song parodies," Ainsworth recalled. “It has been said that if Julie Andrews and Weird 'Al' Yankovic had a child, it would be me. So, really, just being around my dad as a child filled me with a kind of music-and-comedy 'essence.' DNA must've played a part, too."

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