FRESH ORCHESTRATIONS AND BIG BAND BEAUTY EQUALS RAINBOW GRAVITY

By Dee Dee McNeil / Jazz journalist
August 10, 2018

One thing I learned from the liner notes of SCOTT PETITO’S latest release titled, “Rainbow Gravity.” Rainbow Gravity is actually a theory and a concept in quantum physics. It contradicts the Big Bang Theory and asks humanity to consider that time stretches back infinitely and continues on endlessly. very much like music. This rainbow of artists I’ve reviewed do the same. For one, the amazing arrangements and execution of THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA under the direction of GREG FIELDS recalls another era, but still shines with contemporary and timeless music. THE SOUTH FLORIDA JAZZ ORCHESTRA DIRECTED by CHUCK BERGERON presents THE MUSIC OF GARY LINDSAY, a versatile and talented arranger. The JEFF “SIEGE” SIEGEL QUARTET offers a ‘live’ recording in London that reminds me of the freedom and excitement of John Coltrane’s heyday. Vocalist, REBECCA ANGEL, blends pop and jazz music on her debut CD. PEDRO GIRAUDO & THE WDR BIG BAND meld an Argentinian conductor, composer and arranger with a German band to celebrate his South American heritage and his two decades of living in New York City. JIM McNEELY pours all his imagination and composer skills into the FRANKFURT RADIO BIG BAND. Last, but certainly not least, the satin-smooth vocals of VIVIAN LEE, personalize love and loss on her CD titled, “Let’s Talk About Love.” Read all about them.

SCOTT PETITO – “RAINBOW GRAVITY” Planet Arts Records

Scott Petito, composer/bassist/piccolo bass/NS bass/cello & loops; Omar Hakim, Peter Erskine, Simon Phillips & Jack DeJohnette, drums; David Sancious, keyboard; Rachel Z. & Warren Bernhardt, piano; David Spinozza, guitar; Mike Mainieri, vibraphone; Bashiri Johnson, percussion; Bib Mintzer, saxophone; Chris Pasin, trumpet.

Here is a production of pure funk and contemporary musicality played by some of the top modern jazz players in the business. Scott Petito is a bassist, a composer, producer and engineer. This is his second recording as a leader and he has contracted a melting pot of world class musicians. You recognize their talent right away, from the first strains of “Sly-Fi”, one of nine compositions that Petito has written. He has a strong sense of melody. This tune sparks of fiery, punchy horn lines by Bob Mintzer on saxophone, with Petito’s bass, pumping up the band, locking in with Omar Hakim on drums and David Sancious on keyboard. David Spinozza adds guitar to complete this hot rhythm section. Bashiri Johnson fattens their sound with percussion. This tune is over seven minutes long, but I’m never bored for one second. The time changes and melodic intervals keep the music interesting.

Each tune features a different mix of characters, like short, on-stage vignettes. For the second cut, Petito invites Peter Erskine to the drum set, Rachel Z. is on piano and Chis Pasin masters the trumpet. Titled “The Sequence of Events,” Scott Petito adds a piccolo bass solo and Rachel Z is given ample opportunity to showcase her excellence on piano. All of Petito’s compositions are full of groove and embrace the smooth jazz idiom. Even when they settle down to a moderate tempo ballad like “A Balsamic Reduction,” they manage to inspire this listener to tap her toes. The difference between much of the smooth jazz I hear on the airwaves and this recording is that Petito is an awesome composer and has employed these stellar, Grammy nominated musicians to enhance his excellence. None of this music is repetitious or simplistic. The vibraphone solo of Mike Mainieri during this lovely tune is pleasant to the ear and adds to this production. Simon Phillips mans the drums and David Spinozza shines on his guitar solo. Scott Petito covers all bases, incorporating styles. This may be contemporary jazz, but every one of these players know how to produce straight-ahead jazz and are masters in their own right. You hear a sample of this diversity on “The Sanguine Penguin” where Bob Mintzer celebrates his saxophone skills with gusto and where Scott Petito walks (or should I say ‘runs’) his bass lines beneath this production like raging waters. Simon Phillips is given a space to solo on drums, showing off mean technique. This is a recording project burning with talent and excitement. It’s beautiful music with memorable arrangements. There is not one bad tune on this entire recording. Perhaps Petito summed his project up the best when he explained:

“The experience of playing and listening to music can suspend us and yet at the same time sweep us away to new places with infinite possibilities. That relationship between music and our very essence of being, always struck me as the most human of experiences.”

On” Dark Pools,” utilizing the great Jack DeJohnette on drums and Petito on NS bass, cello and loops, Scott Petito expands his sense of music and stretches our imaginations. Petito’s music is provocative.

The title of Petito’s CD is meant to further describe Scott Petito’s musical goals. What I learned from the liner notes is that “Rainbow Gravity” is actually a theory and a concept in quantum physics. It contradicts the Big Bang Theory and asks humanity to consider that time stretches back infinitely and continues on endlessly. As a bassist and stellar composer, Scott Petito endeavors to create a sense of timelessness in his music. At the same time, he’s striving to capture a feeling that could very well continue on forever. To me, “Dark Pools” exemplifies some of this magical music and the composer ‘s forward-thinking mindset.
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THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA – “ALL ABOUT THAT BASIE!” Concord Records

I was expectant and excited to get a preview listen of the Count Basie Orchestra’s September release. Undisputedly, here is a big band/orchestra that has consistently produced amazing music with an unchallenged style and sound. This album is no exception. They open with their famed “Everyday I Have the Blues” featuring the Grammy winning vocal group, “Take 6.” It’s joyful to hear this normally a‘Capella, contemporary vocal aggregation singing with the Basie Band. Oh boy, do they swing! It’s a wonderful blend of modern vocal arrangemenst melded with classic Basie. This is followed by Earth, Wind and Fire’s hit recording of “Can’t Hide Love.” Iconic trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon, often celebrated for his plunger trombone style, is featured and he leads the trombone section. Pianist, Eric Reed adds his virtuosity at the grand piano. This pop piece ‘swings’ hard and continuously, as only the Basie Band can do. This album is produced by Gregg Field, former drummer of the Basie orchestra. Field has garnered eight Grammy Awards celebrating his creative production talents. Stevie Wonder joins the orchestra as a special guest on harmonica, whistling his way into our hearts with his awesome delivery on his self-penned, “My Cherie Amour.” But trust me, there is nothing ‘Pop’ about this arrangement or production. Wonder fits right into the slow swing arrangement that reminds me a little bit of Neal Hefti ‘s Lil’ Darlin’ hit record. It was recorded in the early Basie-Band-days on an album titled, “Atomic Basie.”

Woodwind player, Hal McKusick, who recorded with Neal Hefti in the 1950’s, once asked Hefti what made him stray away from his up-tempo, swingin’ compositions to create this ballad? Neal Hefti explained he originally wrote Lil’ Darlin’ as a medium tempo swing. During a rehearsal, when Basie was running the tune down, the Count asked Neal if the band could try it really slow. Basie said, ‘I’m hearing something.’ So, Neal agreed. He knew Basie’s instincts were always spot on. Basie proceeded to count off Lil’ Darlin’ at a much slower pace. After it was over, Neal said all he could do was smile and say to Basie, you did it! *

“My Cherie Amour” is followed by the timeless jazz standard, “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me,” passionately interpreted by the silky-smooth, vocal style of Kurt Elling. Gregg Field sits in on drums during the revival of this Frank Sinatra hit record.

The orchestra shows its Latin side on the memorable hit by guitarist, Wes Montgomery, choosing “Tequila” as the vehicle to recall the Basie Band’s great success in the 1950’s and 1960’s when they used Latin music as a vehicle. Jon Faddis, with his high trumpet tones and impeccable style, is a welcome featured guest on this arrangement. Bobby Floyd records the hip-swaying, Latin piano chords. He locks the groove into place, along with Will Matthews on guitar. This arrangement also invites the legendary Chick Corea to add his own piano licks and Luisito Quintero flavors the tune with percussion and conguero.

Jamie Davis, a Basie alumni and baritone vocalist re-introduces Jimmy Rushing’s blues hit, “Sent for You Yesterday” with a small ensemble of Basie band members including L.A.’s saxophonist, Rickey Woodard, with Eric Reed back on the keys, Gregg Field manning the drums and L.A.’s own Trevor Ware on bass. Jazz trumpeter, Scotty Barnhart adds a solo. This album would have been incomplete without a good old Kansas City blues and the one chosen does not disappoint. Another highlight is one of my favorite modern-day jazz organists, Joey DeFrancesco. He joins the Basie Orchestra for the second time. I also enjoyed him on the album,“Ray Sings/Basie Swings.” De Francesco brings new life to “April In Paris.” Carmen Bradford is a stellar jazz vocalist who frequently sings with the Count Basie Orchestra. On this project, she tributes Ella Fitzgerald by singing and debuting a never-before-recorded arrangement of “Honeysuckle Rose.” The arrangement was written specifically for Ella by Benny Carter. Gregg Field and the orchestra have covered all bases with this production, adding “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and even incorporating the Adele pop hit, “Hello” to show they are still staying current. The orchestration shows that they can easily embrace popular, contemporary music with the same love and style that the Basie band always brings to their bandstand. They transform”Hello” into a slow swing, featuring a unique, stylized piano solo by Bobby Floyd and a sexy, bluesy trumpet solo by arranger, Kris Johnson. At the song’s ending, they incorporate the popular signature Basie tag to remind the world, “It’s All About that Basie.” Release date is September 7, 2018.

*Note: Historic reference from biography of Neal Hefti (1922 -2008) – Jazz Wax, Oct 15, 2008.
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THE SOUTH FLORIDA JAZZ ORCHESTRA DIRECTED B Y CHUCK BERGERON presents THE MUSIC OF GARY LINDSAY – “ARE WE STILL DREAMING” Summit Records

WOODWINDS: Gary Lindsay, alto saxophone/clarinet/composer/arranger; Gary Keller, alto/soprano saxophones/flute; Ed Calle, tenor saxophone/flute; Phil Doyle & Jason Kush, tenor saxophone/flute; Mike Brignola, baritone saxophone/bass clarinet; Rick Margitza, tenor saxophone; TRUMPETS: Augie Hass, Jeff Kievit, Jason Carder, Alex Norris, Greg Gisbert & Peter Francis. TROMBONES: Dana Teboe, Dante Luciani, John Kricker, Major Bailey, Derek Pyle & Andrew Peal. FRENCH HORNS SPECIAL GUEST: Richard Todd; RHYTHM SECTION: Martin Bejerano, electric & acoustic piano; John Hart, guitar; Chuck Bergeron, acoustic & Elec. Basses/orchestra director; John Yarling, drums; Brian Potts, shaker, pandeiro; Ksenija Komljenovi, vibes & xylophone. Julia Dollison & Nicole Yarling, vocals.

Gary Lindsay is a popular arranger of big band music. This is the first full album that celebrates Lindsay’s big band orchestration on all eight songs. Directed by bassist, Chuck Bergeron, the orchestra includes some of Florida’s best jazz and studio musicians. Both Lindsay and Bergeron are music educators. Lindsay teaches at the Frost School of Music, part of the University of Miami, where he is Director of the Master’s in Music program in Studio Jazz Writing and the Doctoral program in Jazz Composition. Bergeron is a professor of Jazz bass and Jazz History at the University of Miami. This music is an easy listening jazz experience.

The first cut, “Moment in Time” was penned by Gary Lindsay and it brings to mind the smooth, unforgettable sound of Stan Getz, featuring a beautiful saxophone solo. John Hart adds an energy driven guitar solo on this arrangement. “Spring Is Here,” introduces vocalist Julia Dollison, with her soprano range and flexible vocal power. Dante Luciani proffers a memorable trombone solo. “Easy Living” features another vocalist, Nicole Yarling, who brings a soulful expressiveness to this old standard. The arrangement sometimes dwarfs the vocalist with the busy musicality. Lindsay explains:

“…I don’t write arrangements where the vocalist sings the melody and the band plays the accompaniment. I prefer to write arrangements where the singer and the band are in a contrapuntal conversation with one another.”

Ms. Yarling is up for the job, standing her ground with passion and sometimes scatting against a backdrop of horn punches and sweet, pudding-thick orchestration. Soloing, Greg Gilbert steals the attention on trumpet and plays beautifully.

The Pat Metheny composition, “Better Days Ahead,” steers the orchestration into Smooth jazz waters. While the Title tune, “Are We Still Dreaming,” reflects a sultry ballad composed by Lindsay. He once again incorporates the bell-clear soprano voice of Julia Dollison, blending her instrument with the orchestra like a soprano horn. The gorgeous Thelonious Monk composition, “Round Midnight” features Ed Calle on tenor saxophone with a bluesy interpretation of Monk’s music.

This project is produced by trombonist, John Fedchock. It’s a mix of music, styles and eras, strung together by the arranging talents of Gary Lindsay and amply interpreted by the musicians who make up the South Florida Jazz Orchestra.

Gary Lindsay is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Award and a Chamber Music America grant from the Doris Duke Foundation.
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JEFF “SIEGE” SIEGEL QUARTET – “LONDON LIVE”
Artists Recording Collective (ARC)

Jeff “Siege” Siegel, drums; Erica Lindsay, tenor saxophone; Francesca Tanksley, piano; Uli Langthaler, bass.

This project opens with a striking drum solo. The tune is smoky; sultry; straight ahead! A sexy saxophone sings and a piano solo lifts tenor saxophonist, Erica Lindsay’s composition titled, “Meet Me at the Station.” to an exulted level. This group brings back memories of John Coltrane. Speaking of which, when I finally did get to overview the album credits, their third cut is the Coltrane composition, “Peace on Earth.” I was driving to a gig when I first listened to this album. Immediately, I noticed the excitement and technical ability of the drummer. He takes an outstanding solo on this first tune and always keeps pushing the musicality; coloring the phrases and supporting the various players with solid rhythm, but even more-so, with carefully placed licks of percussive encouragement. I could not wait to park my car, so I could read the liner notes and see who the players were. Sure enough, it’s the drummer’s quartet, and a magnificent ensemble it is! This is a ‘Live’ recording; a concert at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London. It was the culmination of a European tour of Germany and Austria. You can hear the tightness and precision of this group, but also the freedom that comes from trusting your musical peers and being familiar and comfortable with each other. This is jazz at its best; Live! Uninhibited and formidable.

It’s the Jeff Siegel Quartet’s fourth album and their second live recording. Six of the eight songs are original compositions written by tenor saxophonist, Erica Lindsay, pianist, Francesca Tanksley and their leader, Jeff Siegel. Every song on this recording is excellently played and memorable. If I were giving out stars as praise, I would shower all the stars in our universe upon this project. Had I not been driving, I would have given this group a standing ovation.
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GEOFFREY KEEZER TRIO featuring GILLIAN MARGOT – “ON MY WAY TO YOU” Markees Records

Geoffrey Keezer, Yamaha pianos; Lee Perrson, drum; Mike Pope, elec & double bass; Gillian Margot, vocal.

Geoffrey Keezer is a busy pianist, with fingers flying and crescendos raging on the very first song titled, “These Three Words.” He makes the title sound more like a novel of music rather than something as simplistic as three words. Keezer’s amazing talent races up and down the black and white keys, with tenacious attention and detail. He fills up every space of Stevie Wonder’s composition. It’s a song from Stevie’s “Jungle Fever “album. A song I know quite well, but hardly recognized. I listened twice and I enjoyed the tenderness that bassist Mike Pope put into this composition during his solo. If you’re familiar with the lyrics of Wonder’s composition, they touch you in a tender kind of way. I think sometimes that if musicians listened to the lyrics of a song, as closely as they listen to the melody, their interpretation of that song would be more efficient and inspired. I enjoyed Keezer’s solo, when he re-entered, after the bass improvisation. However, it didn’t take long before he was once again crashing against space with amazing strength and piano power.

Vocalist Gillian Margot has a beautiful voice and has taken to penning lyrics to “You Stay With Me” a Keezer composition. The melody is challenging and the vocalist has penned prose to Geoffrey Keezer’s tune that are printed on the album cover. At first listen, they do not attach themselves to memory. As a published songwriter myself, I’ve learned to understand the way that melodies ebb and fall inspire lyrics. The rhyme and rhythm should match. I think this was a lyrical opportunity lost in translation.

“All the Things You Are” is interpreted as a medley with the Earth Wind & Fire popular, “Serpentine Fire” song. Keezer and his trio show us the funkier side of his group, and Lee Perrson on drums is formidable. Mike Pope’s bass-line pushes the funky feeling forward, locking in with Perrson. It’s a strong rhythm section and Keezer is amazing during his piano attack on this creative and unique medley that fuses these two familiar tunes.

Geoffrey Keezer is an artist who creates new art, finger-painting on his piano and splashing surprise solos and unusual arrangements in vivid colors of sound. Take for instance, Thelonious Monk’s “Brilliant Corners” tune, played as a funk; or listen to his arrangement of the Michael Legrand composition “On My Way to You”, where he adds strings and Gillian Margot’s lovely voice. I think her rendition would make Barbara Streisand proud.

Perhaps Geoffrey Keezer sums up this project best in his liner notes when he says:

“When I got to New York in the late ‘80s, it was the clear mission of the pianists there to play strong and hard; to give it up a thousand percent every time,” he summed up his style and explained his energetic and ebullient playing.

“Even though I’ve lived in California for almost twenty years, I’m coming out of that late 80’s New York piano style for sure.”
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REBECCA ANGEL – “WHAT WE HAD” Timeless Grooves Records

Rebecca Angel, vocals/programming/composer; Jason Miles, keyboards/Fender Rhodes/Moog bass/pads/percussion; Dennis Angel, flugelhorn; Gottfried Stoger, flute; Hailey Niswanger, soprano saxophone; Sebastian Stoger, cello; Jonah Miles Prendergast & Christian Ver Halen, guitar; Ricardo Silveira, acoustic rhythm guitar; James Genius, acoustic bass; Reggie Washington & Adam Dorn, bass; Mino Cinelu & Cyro Baptista, percussion; Brian Dunne, drums.

A mere twenty-two year old, Rebecca Angel brings a pop/jazz,crossover feel to these arrangements, beginning with the Charmichael/Adamson song, “Winter Moon.” Hailey Niswanger offers a compelling soprano saxophone solo during this Latin arrangement and the sexy rhythm track on this first cut sets the mood for what is to come. Kudos to the percussion player, Mino Cinelu, and also Brian Dunne on drums. They create a strong groove that may also have been enhanced by producer, Jason Miles, who is a master on pads, percussion and keyboards. Jason Miles also plays Fender Rhodes and Moog bass. Rebecca Angel has surrounded herself with a cadre of musical excellence on this, her first EP production and premiere release. I note that she already has a signature sound. That is to say, you will recognize her voice when you hear it again. She exhibits a smoky second soprano tone and tends to slide up to her notes. The title tune is one of her original compositions. It too is produced with a Latin feel and there’s lots of overdubbing on her vocals, adding descants and harmonies. This tune is very ‘popish’ and could have been mixed better. On “Agora Sim” we get back to a jazz/Brazilian feel, tickling my memory of Astrud Gilberto or the popular A&M recording group, Brazil 66. “Stand by Me” is a standard R&B song, made famous for its insertion into film and originally performed by the famous artist, Ben E. King. It’s strange to hear “Stand By Me” recorded on a CD being publicized as a jazz recording. Then again, if you’re trying to break into the Smooth Jazz market, it could easily find a foothold. This is a fresh and well-produced beginning to a young artists’ vocal career. She has time to develop her style, confidence and fan base.

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PEDRO GIRAUDO & THE WDR BIG BAND – “AN ARGENTINIAN IN NEW YORK” Zoho Records

Pedro Giraudo, composer/conductor/bassist/arranger. The WDR Big Band.

There is no doubt that music crosses all boundaries, all borders, all cultures and nourishes us with its richness. Sometimes music introduces us to new horizons, new thoughts and often music blends nationalities and experiences sweetly, like sugar and salt, that are both combined in baking a successful cake. Pedro Giraudo is a composer, conductor and Argentinian, who relocated to New York twenty years ago and recently found himself in Germany, conducting the esteemed WDR big band on November 29, 2016. It was an evening to remember, playing to a packed house at the WDR Funkhaus in Koln. Like my example of the cake, it was a sweet and rewardingly successful experience.

Each of Giraudo’s compositions has a title and story behind that title that he shares with us in his liner notes. I enjoyed his composition, “Chicharrita” (“Cicada”), that gave the clarinetist an opportunity to solo and soar. Giraudo explains that Osvaldo Pugliese (1905 – 1995) was for decades an important figure in the history of the ‘Tango.’ He was a composer, pianist and bandleader. His style was deep, rich and lush, but his voice was shockingly high pitched, thus earning him the affectionate nickname of Chicharrita. Giraudo uses the high-pitched woodwind to float above his lush arrangements and celebrate this man who popularized the tango with his unforgettable music. “La Ley Primera” (The First Law) is played in a very bluesy way, featuring a lovely and heartfelt saxophone solo. You will find Pedro Giraudo’s music adequately expressed by the German WDR Big Band in an exuberant and technically proficient way. I wish I could have credited the many expert soloists I heard. They put their heart and souls into expressing these very sensitive and passionate compositions. Their individual voices on their instruments spoke to the beauty in each arrangement and magnificently interpreted Pedro Giraudo’s original works. I regret the soloist names were not included and referenced in liner notes, pinpointing the solos they played. One of the things I enjoyed about Pedro Giraudo’s arrangements is that he left lots of open space for soloists to improvise and express themselves.

Pedro Giraudo is well known in the New York arena, having merged his talents as a virtuoso bass player with well-respected musicians like Regina Carter, Reuben Blades, Paquito D’Rivera, Branford Marsalis and more. He is a respected bandleader who has released five critically acclaimed albums. Giraudo, diversified in his musical efforts, leads three bands; a big band, a jazz orchestra and a sextet. This is another plume in the multi-cultural, multi-generational hat he proudly wears.
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THE FRANKFURT RADIO BIG BAND – “JIM McNEELY BAREFOOT DANCES AND OTHER VISIONS” Planet Arts

Jim McNeely, composer/arranger/conductor; Peter Reiter, piano; Martin Scales, guitar; Thomas Heidepriem, bass; Jean Paul Hochstadter, drums; Heinz-Dieter Sauerborn, soprano & alto saxophones/flute/alto & bass flutes/clarinet; Oliver Leicht, soprano & Alto saxophones/flute/alto flute/B flat and alto clarinets; Tony Lakatos, tenor saxophone/flute/alto flute; Steffen Weber, tenor saxophone/flute/bass flute/clarinet; Rainer Heute, baritone saxophone/bass clarinet/alto flute; Frank Wellert, Thomas Vogel, Martin Auer, & Axel Schlosser, trumpet/flugelhorns; Gunter Bollmann & Peter Feil, trombone; Christian Jakso, trombone/euphonium/valve trombone; Manfred Honetschlager, bass trombone.

The opening tune reminds me of the Cozy Cole style of drums. The percussion staunchly carries this arrangement and I search for the drummer’s name in the credits. The horns accentuate the rhythm-licks and the arrangement is interesting and ear-catching. Christian Jakso is featured on valve trombone and Martin Scales shows his skills on guitar. But it’s the drummer, Jean-Paul Hochstadter, who makes this first cut pop and memorable. It’s called “Bob’s Here” and is one of seven songs composed and arranged by Jim McNeely for this project. McNeely started working with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band in 2008. After three or four projects, he became familiar enough with the band members to imagine their talents, tone and improvisational sounds while he was writing his scores. With great care and adulation, Jim McNeely has tailored these musical visions to support each individual musician’s high points and uniqueness. He also composed these songs with various historic inspirations. For example, on “Bob’s Here” McNeely imagined the return of composer and trombonist, Bob Brookmeyer, who was one of McNeely’s mentor’s. Brookmeyer died in 2011. “Redman Rides Again” is his composition celebrating famed arranger and reedman, Don Redman, who wrote fantastic clarinet trio arrangements. McNeely let’s Axel Schlosser on flugelhorn and Oliver Leicht on his harmonized clarinet re-imagine Redman’s arrangements, woven into the texture of McNeely’s tribute composition. This is no ‘swing’ band, but it is a work of lush orchestration, imagination and aptitude.
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VIVIAN LEE – “LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE” Tara Records

Vivian Lee, vocals; Brenden Lowe & Joe Gilman, piano; Buc Necak, bass; Jeff Minnieweather, drums; Jeff Clayton, alto saxophone.

Vivian Lee’s rich, alto voice floats atop solid, jazz, band arrangements and immediately peeks my interest. From the premier cut, their unique presentation of the Burt Bacharach tune, “Wives and Lovers,” is fresh and original. I used to love to hear Dionne Warwick sings this song, but Vivian Lee and her swinging ensemble makes it totally their own. Her repertoire is plush with tunes from the Great American Songbook. However, Vivian Lee interprets each in her own inimitable way. For example, on the Gershwin standard, “The Man I Love,” she turns a bluesy ballad into a mid-tempo ‘swing’.

This talented vocalist reminds me of songs I’ve loved and missed, reaching back into yesteryear and pulling out gems like “Didn’t We” and “Out of Nowhere”. Ms. Lee breathes new life into beautiful melodies and lyrics like “Being Green,” (the Mercer/Mandel composition), or “Emily and “Waltz for Debby.” Not only does Vivian Lee talk about love, she tells stories of love we all have lived and makes us relate to each one with the passion and tonal precision that only a seasoned and sincere jazz vocalist and storyteller can do.
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One Response to “FRESH ORCHESTRATIONS AND BIG BAND BEAUTY EQUALS RAINBOW GRAVITY”

  1. REVIEWS: Musical Memoirs Blog Reviews Scott Petito’s “Rainbow Gravity” and Jeff Siegel’s “London Live” | LYDIALIEBMAN.COM Says:

    […] Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs Blog […]

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