"an agile voice in the service of an agile mind" "When LaVon performs a song, you can be assured that not only will it sung beautifully, with the playfulness and the poignancy the song deserves, ... each song becomes a distinct and memorable experience for the listener." Authenticity and soul are the foundations upon which LaVon stands when she sings. She simply has a rare ability to become a direct connection between the listener and the music. On her debut release, Choices, LaVon shows why audiences rave about her performances. Each song oozes with personality and character, from the dark disfunction of "Perhaps" -- enhanced by the eerie musical saw of Russell Gores -- to the glass-half-full optimism of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Choices is remarkably cohesive, given the breadth of LaVon's song selections. With two exceptions, the songs are well-known jazz standards and pop covers. In LaVon's highly creative arrangements, these become tools for exploring the characters in the stories, and even familiar tunes take on new meaning and depth. Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," for example, gets the swamp blues treatment, complete with Scuff Acuff's fingers scurrying across his washboard like cockroaches fleeing the light. Veteran pianist Joe Baque co-wrote the title song "Choices" decades ago, though LaVon's is the first recording of this poignant jazz mediation on the confusion of maturity. And LaVon's original re-imagining of Lear's poem "The Owl and the Pussycat" finds the two in a sometimes-awkward dating situation, wrapped in an arrangement that sounds like a just-hatched jazz standard. While Choices will delight jazz fans, it's forays into blues and pop give it an even broader appeal. Just call it great vocal music. Choices features: LaVon Hardison: vocals Joe Baque: piano Lorree Gardener: bass, vocals Brad Gibson: drums Russell Gores: saw Pat Locke: guitar Steve Luceno: guitar, bass, percussion, vocals Barbara Metcalf: fiddle Skuff Acuff: washboard Bruce Whitcomb: keyboards.