Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March Lions and Lambs (on record and on-stage)

New York Voices - Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Damon Meader and Peter Eldridge - celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Over the past quarter-century, the quartet has toured the world playing with big bands, orchestras and small combos and conducting vocal workshops.  They've only released 1 CD in the 21st Century while pursuing individual careers but, when they come together, magic occurs. Give a listen to "Live With the WDR Big Band Cologne" (Palmetto Records), a 76 minute live concert recorded in May of 2008, and you'll be impressed by NYV's range. Also impressive are the excellent arrangements, courtesy of Michael Abene, and the splendid musicians who appear on all but 1 of the 10 tracks (the Voices do a wonderful a cappella take of "Almost Like Being In Love.")

The repertoire ranges from 2 pieces from the pen of Paul Simon, several "standards", 2 originals and 1 piece from Annie Lennox. The program opens with a bluesy take of Simon's "Baby Driver", complete with distorted guitar (Paul Shigihara) and a rousing lead vocal from Eldridge. Though the lyrics are a touch "space-y", every one swings the heck out of the piece.Following that is a sweet take on Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" (lyrics by Mark Murphy) with the Voices blending and several fine solos (trombonist Ludwig Nuss and alto saxophonist Heiner Wiberny).  Ms. Nazarian leads the Voices and the Band through a high-powered reading of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", the highlight of the first half is an exciting tenor solo from Paul Heller; then, the piece slows down for the Voices to caress the melody and harmonies. Swing reappears on a rousing reading of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream".  After Eldridge's take on the lyrics, there are 3 strong solos including a hearty "scat" from Meader.  The CD closes in a Latin vein with a long, high-powered, romp through "The Sultan Fainted" (an Eldridge-Meader original), complete with fiery solos from Olivier Peters on EWI, Meader scatting once more, and Frank Chastenier on acoustic piano, followed by a solo exchange featuring Hans Dekker on drums and percussionist Pernell Saturnio.

The way the New York Voices work together is mighty impressive, weaving their individual voices in and out of the mix, never sounding phony or academic.  Abene's arrangements work seamlessly alongside the vocals and the 18-member WDR Cologne execute his charts with aplomb.  Recorded in 2008 (during NYV's 20th anniversary), this music is both timeless and fun.  For more information and to have a listen, go to

The Uncertainty Music Series continues this Saturday (March 9) with a bassists double-bill at 8 p.m. in Never Ending Books, 810 State Street in New Haven. Opening the show will be UMS curator Carl Testa who will play a solo set (acoustic bass and electronics) - following him will be the Shayna Dulberger Quartet.  Ms. Dulberger, bassist and composer, has worked with fellow bassist William Parker's Large Ensemble, with percussionist Warren Smith, tubist Joe Daley and others.  She has led and recorded with the Kill Me Trio while this ensemble features her music played by guitarist Chris Welcome, saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer and drummer Carlo Costa.  To find more about her music, go to  To find out more about this show and upcoming concerts, go to

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