LIZ TERRELL – IT’S ALRIGHT WITH ME

For those not in the know, the room is illuminated with misty candlelight. You sip something cool in a frosted glass. A rich, sultry voice begins to fill the room: Liz Terrell has taken the stage. Known for her powerhouse vocals and captivating yet subtle stage presence, Terrell swings intuitively and sings with incredible vocal dexterity. Over the past decade, Terrell’s musical career has navigated through the performance spectrum, ranging from musical theater and cabaret to touring Europe in a gospel ensemble. After many years of exploration, she found herself firmly planted in jazz. It’s All Right With Me is Terrell’s debut album as a leader and is filled with highlights of the last five years of her study as a jazz vocalist. A quite breathtakingly new, jazzy rendition of People Make The World Go Round (originally made famous by The Stylistics in 1972), kicks things off in some mighty fine style here and that is itself backed by a pair of indelible Cole Porter tunes, the laid back, late night ambiance of both the title track It’s All Right With Me and Night and Day, before we are brought forth Thelonious Monk’s earthy Blue Monk, and a simply delicious dollop of contemporary flavor with Terrell’s quick-step rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s aching pop balladry, Time After Time. Not often covered by jazz artists of any nature, the Cy Coleman/Joseph McCarthy tune, I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life is up next, and complete with a layered, sensuous mid-tempo feel is a pure joy to behold and that is followed by Terrell paying tribute to Fats Waller with a medley of standards sung with maturity, humor, and, of course, just a touch of sex appeal. Next up, we are brought Terrell and pianist Daniel Clarke alone on the emotively breathy Elvis Costello cut Almost Blue, the album rounding out on the ornately...

Michelle Nicolle

Known for her ability to get right to the heart of a song, as well as being an in the moment improviser Michelle has continually developed and nurtured her art form with the help of her quartet.  As well as releasing 8 CDs the MNQuartet has toured extensively throughout Australia and internationally -highlights include South Korea, Finland, and Czech Republic, Asia Pacific Festival (Russia), Tokyo Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), New Zealand, Turkey, Estonia, Indonesia and Singapore. Recently Michelle has performed concerts and workshops in London, Spice of Life, Bulls Head (2016) JEN Conference, New Orleans 2017, Frost School of Music (Miami) and JazzVox in Seattle, USA (2017, 2019), 10 Date Tour of Czech Republic (2018) University of North Texas with UNT Jazz Singers, Oceanside Jazz Festival (2019), Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival, (USA 2019). Arranger, band leader and award-winning jazz vocalist Michelle Nicolle started her musical career when she began the violin at the age of eight in the Barossa Valley, South Australia in the 1970s.  Based in Melbourne, she is now celebrated as Australia’s finest jazz singer. Leading her band with a quiet dignity, Nicolle’s apparent ease at difficult, and varied improvisation, bring to mind the skills of singers like Betty Carter, Mel Torme or Ella Fitzgerald.  But she sounds like none of those singers.  Michelle Nicolle is a jazz singer in the true jazz tradition – a creative and masterful improviser with the technique to match any instrumentalist. As a country girl Michelle grew up listening to pop music and old movie tunes, playing in the Barossa Valley Schools Orchestra, and teaching herself to play the Angaston Town Hall’s grand piano ~ whilst her father worked, polishing the dance floor.  Throughout High School, music continued to dominate.  She moved up the ranks of the Orchestra, kept ‘nutting out’ pop tunes on the piano (Prince & Duran Duran!!), blew 3rd cornet in a local marching band and sang in every choir on offer. In...

Aimee Nolte – Looking For The Answers

Aimee Nolte’s voice is beautiful, sonorous and reflective on her latest album Looking For The Answers, The singer arranged and produced every track on the album, lending a consistent aesthetic and laid-back vibe to most of the cuts here. What separates Nolte from other vocalists and composers is the poetry and storytelling quality of her compositions, with lyrics reminescent of Joni Mitchell – just minus Mitchell playfulness. “Save Me One Last Time” speaks to the bandleadeader’s seriousness as a lyricists when the theme of lost love is addressed: “If I keep on falling, I’ll be lost forever/ Save me one last time.”Nolte exhibits her jazz chops on “Bye Bye Blackbird”, when she pleasantly scats as John Clayton accopanies her on bass. Despite instrumentalists coming and going track to track, Looking For The Answers is pretty even-keeled listen. Dough Webb and John Reilly on woodwinds round out “The Loveliest Girl” and “Save Me One Last Time,” respectively. And drummmer James Yoshizawa delivers throughout the recording with a soft, but steady, attention to mantaining the rhytm, making his performances incospicuos, until the listener realizes that his reliability helps drive the entire album. “For A While” closes things out with Nolte on piano, sans vocals, letting listeners take in the bandleader’s full abilities at the keyboard while she paints a chromatic ballad that’s sure to delight. – Michele L. Simms-Burton (Downbeat)  ...

Allan Harris pay tribute to Bill Evans/Tony Bennett

Bill Evans’s wistful, lightly skipping “Waltz for Debby” is a classic 1950s jazz composition that doesn’t really need words to conjure an evanescent childhood dream world. But its lyrics, added several years later by Gene Lees, about a little girl who will soon outgrow her “dolls and clowns and a big purple bear,” deepen the poignancy of a song that imagines those toys missing her once she abandons them. Enlarge This Image Ruby Washington/The New York Times Allan Harris performing songs from his CD “Convergence.” To hear the jazz singer Allan Harris pouring warmth and tenderness into that song, which he performed in an exquisitely syncopated vocal arrangement on Tuesday evening at the Metropolitan Room, was to peek into a child’s enchanted toy land through the eyes of a devoted father. Music Review  By STEPHEN HOLDEN for The New York Times Published: August 29, 2012 That performance was the high point of Mr. Harris’s new show, which remembers the ’70s duet albums that Evans recorded with Tony Bennett. Mr. Harris’s new album with the pianist Takana Miyamoto, “Convergence” (Love Productions Records), consists of recordings of 10 songs from the Bennett-Evans sessions that closely echo the style and spirit of the originals. Orrin Evans (no relation to Bill) was Mr. Harris’s excellent pianist on Tuesday. Mr. Harris’s formidable baritone, with its husky edges and deep, resonant low notes, bears little resemblance to Mr. Bennett’s tenor-baritone. But the two singers are temperamentally quite similar. When Mr. Harris mutes his lurking blues bark, he closely resembles Nat King Cole. His approach is polite, pleasant and reassuring without being bland. Mr. Harris performed the songs in the same order that they appear on “Convergence,” with only one addition, a fragment of “When in Rome,” a number he was still in the process of learning and for which he played guitar. A lightly swinging version...

Tessa Souter “Beyond The Blue”

Three of the tracks—“The Lamp Is Low,” based on Ravel’s “Pavane”; “My Reverie,” built from Debussy’s “Rêverie”; and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” from Borodin’s “String Quartet in D”—will be instantly recognizable, though Souter’s slow, sensual readings are stunningly original. A fourth is based on another Borodin composition, his “Polovetsian Dances,” transformed more than a half-century ago into “Stranger in Paradise,” but here reimagined by Souter as the more intimately romantic “Dance With Me.” The eight remaining tracks embrace source material both familiar (Beethoven’s “Seventh Symphony,” Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3”) and comparatively obscure (Tomaso Albinoni’s “Adagio in G Minor,” Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane” and his “Elegy”), all refitted with splendidly crafted Souter lyrics. In the liner notes, Souter says that the majority of the arrangements “emerged spontaneously in the studio.” Such alchemic dexterity is a rare pleasure. By Christopher Loudon “Jazz...

Dorian Devins – Two New Releases

New York centered jazz singer and lyricist Dorian Devins first rocked my sensitive Southern Consciousness in 2013 with the release of The Procrastinator (Rain1 Jazz). Devins marked a return to that jazz step-child, vocalese: the application of lyrics to well-known wordless jazz compositions. The recording was a cornerstone of that year. Devins played a very large part on The Lou Rainone Quintet +1’s Skydance singing two of her compositions (Rain1jazz, 2015). Here on the fulcrum between then and now, Devins releases CD and EP, Imaginary Release and City Stories, back to back, much to our delight. Dorian Devins has a genuine knack for intelligent and thoughtful programming for her projects. The Procrastinator focused intensely on vocalese, others and her own. While bringing a remnant of vocalese to Imaginary Release, Devins expands her creative reach to include some classical hybridization and a nod to the age of Classic Rock. A cheeky allusion to the fact that this release will be available only in a digital format, Imaginary Release shows both creative and performance growth on the part of Devins. The singer adapts two Eric Satie melodies for the medium tempo “Lament for the Moon” and the Eastern-slanted “Satie-ated,” both with the harmonic help of husband/pianist Lou Raineone. Devins extends this Eastern motif into Traffic’s “Hidden Treasures.” She does a straight vocalese on the Ellington/Lee classic, “I’m Gonna Go Fishin'” where her performance is tart, precise, and swinging. Devins’ phrasing presently has no peer. The singer penned words for Wayne Shorter‘s “Conundrum,” making a slick Latin piece punctuated by Rainone’s fine piano interludes. Her straight jazz here is formidable. Leonard Bernstein‘s “Some Other Time” is delicately arranged by Rainone and sung by Devins, displaying her potent alto voice. Benny Goodman‘s “Lullaby in Rhythm” is freshened up considerably, and features Richie Vitale‘s sharp trumpet playing and Tom Christensen‘s woody reeds. The surprise...

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