January 30, 2017
Beata Pater Fire Dance (B&B Records BB 0421)
An earlier album by Beata Pater, Golden Lady (BB 0419), reviewed here, featured her singing a pleasing selection of well-known yet underused songs with just piano and bass accompaniment. On this new release, she sings a collection of wordless songs, all of them originals by Alex Danson, and for these she is joined by a seven-piece band. Rhythmically varied, the music touches on eastern Europe, the Middle East and north Africa, all cloaked in American concepts, including contemporary R&B and jazz/funk. Beata’s vocal sound, soft and intimate, draws the listener in and despite the absence of words succeeds in creating a warmly intimate and lyrical air. The nature of the songs heard here showcases Beata’s musical skill, honed though training as a violinist at Warsaw’s Music Academy, and also as a session singer in Japan. The singer’s accompanists here are saxophonists Sam Newsome, Anton Schwartz, Aaron Lington, keyboard player Scott Collard, bassist Aaron Germain, drummer Alan Hall, and percussionist Brian Rice. Adding immeasurably to the texture of these performances, use is made by Beata of multi-tracking, thus creating a highly effective vocal chorale. The absence of lyrics enhances the Beata’s role as a fully integrated member of the ensemble, her voice being used instrumentally. An attractive album that presents yet another aspect of this multi-faceted artist’s work.
Sidney Jacobs First Man (Baby Chubs Records)
After singing in church and touring internationally with the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, Sidney Jacobs performed operatic roles and also jazz. Family needs directed him toward a career outside music (he had mastered in Clinical Psychology and Educational Psychology) but music was an ever-present facet of his life. Writing numerous songs in a wide range of genres, Sidney continued to sing, eventually releasing his debut album, Been So Long, in 2013. On this, his second album, Sidney performs seven of his own songs as well as works by Sacha Distel, The Good Life, Bill Withers, Lonely Town Lonely Street, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, My Favorite Things, James Taylor, Secret O’ Life, and others. Sidney’s accompaniment ranges from single instrument (Secret O’ Life with Josh Nelson, piano), duo (The Good Life with Nelson, piano and Zephyr Avalon, bass) to seven- and eight-piece groups. Collectively, these musical collaborators are Nolan Shaheed, trumpet, Wendell Kelly, trombone, Josh Johnson, alto saxophone, Michael Jarvey, piano & viola, Greg Poree, guitar, Zephyr Avalon, bass, Justin Thomas, vibraphone & marimba, Francesco Canas, violin, and Efa Etoroma Jr, drums, and on three tracks Sidney is also backed by vocalist Cathy Segal-Garcia. A strong, mature and distinctive voice enhances Sidney’s original compositions and his unusual and always interesting variations on familiar songs commands attention.
More information on Beata Pater and Sidney Jacobs (including albums and booking) can be found at Mouthpiece Music.
Nick Fizer Hear & Now (Outside In Music OiM 1701)
On this, his third album, trombonist Nick Fizer displays not only his exceptional instrumental skill but also his ability as a composer. All but one of the tracks are Nick’s compositions, and with them Nick seeks unity at a time of division (the exception is a fine interpretation of Duke Ellington’s Single Petal Of A Rose). Although division and strife knows no boundaries, the USA in particular is today divided despite its origins as a land of hope and freedom. What the composer strives to find are ways in which introspective thought might supersede the shoot-from-the-hip approach so often suffered (sometimes quite literally). Given the album concept and the international mood it might be thought that this would result in gloomy music but that is not so. Yes, there are compositions that depict the dark side of life today but there are also optimistic works, suggesting that come what may there will one day be a time of unity in the world. Among Nick’s works heard here are We The People, Race To The Bottom, New Beginnings, and Love Wins. The other instrumentalists joining Nick are Lucas Pino, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Glenn Zaleski, piano, Alex Wintz, guitar, Dave Baron, bass, and Jimmy Macbride, drums.
More information on Nick Fizer, including albums and booking (as well as February and March nationwide tour dates) can be obtained from Braithwaite & Katz: [email protected]
February 28, 2014
Carol Fredette – No Sad Songs For Me (Soundbrush SR 1028)
Singing from early childhood, Carol Fredette also studied piano and by her teenage years had shaken off an earlier inclination towards classical music and sang with the bands of Larry Elgart and Neal Hefti. Carol attracted the attention of leading jazz instrumentalists, not least Stan Getz, who remarked of her: ‘She’s as good as they come.’ Another early musical meeting was with pianist Steve Kuhn and they evolved an enduring musical partnership. Among her albums are 1990’s In The Shadows, for Owl Records, 1999’s Everything I Need, a Brownstone Records release that had Carol singing the songs of Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough, and 2009’s Soundbrush Records notable Everything In Time. There are other releases, but not all that many, which is a sad reflection on a recording industry that should know better. Fortunately, Soundbrush has now released this new set, No Sad Songs For Me, on which Carol brings her lovely vocal sound, rich and creamy, to a delightful selection of songs loosely linked by feelings of lost love. Among these are You’d Better Love Me, Dancing In The Dark, Long Ago And Far Away, You Better Go Now and To Love And Be Loved. Yet, as the album title indicates, Carol does not approach the theme negatively; rather, she highlights the message of the song with which she closes the album: No Regrets.
Appearing with Carol here are the pianists Andy Ezrin, Helio Alves and Dario Eskenazi, as well as bassist David Finck (who also contributes the album’s title song) and drummer Kevin Winard as well as a selection of adept horn players: trumpeter Tony Kadleck, trombonist Michael Davis, saxophonist David Mann, guitarist Bob Mann. Interpreting the lyrics with graceful skill, Carol vividly demonstrates her exceptional ability and shows throughout that those long ago accolades remain just as valid today.
Barbara Levy Daniels – Love Lost And Found (Bldproductions Inc)
Some years ago, a young singer named Barbara Lyons was heard by Ray Charles who garlanded her with praise and urged the record company for whom she was auditioning. But Barbara was only 12 years old and a different path was taken. This path was career in psychotherapy that ran for three decades but Barbara never lost touch with her early love for singing and the next 15 years found her bringing her underused musical talent to the fore. A couple of albums came along, but were not as widely heard as they clearly deserved to be and it is a delight to hear her again on this new set, Love Lost And Found, released by herself. On this set Barbara sings a selection of standards, delivering smoothly performed, always interesting, and genuinely moving interpretations of songs such as My Heart Stood Still, It’s The Talk of The Town, The Nearness Of You, For All We Know and It Could Happen To You.
Barbara’s accompanists here are John DiMartino, piano, Paul Meyers, guitar, Boris Koslov, bass, Shinnosuke Takahashi, and the fine trumpeter Warren Vaché. While this singer might be a new name to many worldwide, the maturity of sound and skill should bring a lot of pleasure to those who like to hear good songs sung well.
Janice Borla – Promises To Burn (Tall Grass TG8281)
During the past couple of decades, when singers by the score released CDs with often startling frequency, Janice Borla tended to buck the trend and released far too few album. Fortunately for all lovers of good and distinctive jazz singing, matters have improved in recent years with From Every Angle, Agents of Change, Lunar Octave, and now Promises To Burn. A glance at the composers of the songs on this latest album gives a clear indication of where Janice’s priorities lie. Bill Evans is represented by Funkallero, Lennie Tristano by Lennie’s Pennies, Tadd Dameron by If You Could See Me Now. And although Janice gives an intriguing twist to standards such as You Don’t Know What Love Is (Don Raye and Gene DePaul) and Some Other Time (Leonard Bernstein and Betty Comden and Adolph Green), she is clearly most at home in a jazz mood, adding Jack DeJohnette’s Silver Hollow, Joey Calderazzo’s Midnight Voyage and Bob Mintzer’s RunFerYerLife. Janice’s interpretation of the lyrics of those already named as well as Karen Gallinger, Christine Helferich and Carl Sigman, vividly demonstrates not only her skill and understanding but also her respect for the writers.
Accompanied by three regular musical associates, trumpeter Art Davis, bassist Bob Bowman and drummer Jack Mouse, along with tenor saxophonist Scott Robinson and guitarist John McLean, Janice makes clear with her full, rich vocal sound and her superb musicianship that jazz singing is in more than capable hands.
Beata Pater – Golden Lady – (B&B Records BB 0419)
Unlike her three most recent albums, Black, Blue and Red, here Beata Pater sings with minimal accompaniment, just piano and bass, and the result is a delicately imaginative reworking of a nicely varied selection of songs. On those previous albums, as well as others that have been appearing since the early 1990s, Beata demonstrated her comprehensive musical skills. Trained as a violinist at Warsaw’s Music Academy, she came to the USA from Poland with an established following, not only in her native Poland but also in Japan, where she spent a valuable decade as a session singer, club performer and also fronted her own groups.
Among the well-known but by no means overdone songs reinvented here are Wild Is The Wind, Save Your Love For Me, Golden Lady, This Is All I Ask and Someone To Light Up My Life. There are also several less well-known songs that are especially suited to the singer’s thoughtful understanding, including Maya Angelou’s Turned To Blue and Oscar Castro-Neves’s I Live To Love You. Beata sings all of these songs, familiar and neglected, in her soft, gentle and persuasive voice, a vocal sound that is flexible and constantly finds the subtleties of the lyricists’ intentions and the composers’ melodic charms. Beata’s accompanists here are pianist Hiromu Aoki and her longtime musical associate, bassist Buca Necak, both of whom add immeasurably to the many delights of this set.
Judy Philbin – Keeping It Simple (own release)
The album title tells you what to expect and it delivers. Yet for all its simplicity in presentation, the skills of this delightful duo are vividly evident from the first bars. Judy Philbin is an experienced singer, well known in California, and has a classical background, studying voice, trumpet, piano and guitar, but has chosen to express herself in jazz and superior popular song. She is linked here with Adam Levine, an exceptional guitarist whose background includes studies at Berklee and with Joe Pass before he went on to form Human Nation.
As well as jazz and popular standards, such as Moonglow, Skylark and The Nearness Of You, the music chosen by Judy and Adam includes Latin touches, Bésame Mucho, and some pleasing originals of their own. Throughout this set, Judy’s warm vocal sound blends beautifully with Adam’s fluid instrumental work.
Lisa Ferraro – Serenading The Moon – (Pranavasonic Universal PVS 1724)
Storytelling in song is clearly Lisa Ferraro’s forte and here she performs a delightful set of mainly standards, interpreting the lyrics with understanding and finding an appropriately jazzy groove for the melodic and rhythmic qualities of the songs she sings. Her accompanists are New York stalwarts John Di Martino, piano, James Chirillo, guitar, Ray Drummond, bass, and Lewis Nash, drums. The session is produced by Houston Person and he also plays tenor saxophone, accompanying Lisa in the manner that has been an ongoing joy for music lovers for many years. Houston plays with skill and subtlety, unerringly finding an earthy grace that lifts the musicians who surround him. The songs Lisa has chosen for this set include I Wished On The Moon (Ralph Rainger & Dorothy Parker), I’m Just A Lucky So And So (Duke Ellington & Mack David), How Little We Know (Carolyn Leigh & Phil Springer), and Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer).
To all the songs presented here, Lisa brings touches that will appeal to many, her strong yet liquid vocal sound being ideally suited to her material. This is Lisa’s tenth album, yet I have to confess that this is the first I have heard. My loss, and something I shall take immediate steps to correct.
As always. these albums can be found at Amazon.