Saturday, February 15, 2014
Hearts & Souls (Part 2)
Several guests add their unique voices to the project. Nellie McKay not only sings along on "Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue" (a Dave Frishberg tune recorded by numerous people but especially Blossom Dearie) but adds her ukulele. Ms. Cervini brings out her alto saxophone (her first instrument) for the song. Her husband Oded Lev-Ari plays piano on the lovely duo version of Dominque Eade's "Go Gently To The Water" and joins the Trio plus guest Gary Versace (accordion) on "Penguin Dance" ( a piece Ms Cervini co-wrote with Nicky Schrire.) Marty Ehrlich's unique alto saxophone sound is the opening sound on the sweet version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", a piece that also features excellent guitar from Lewis. Anzic label head Anat Cohen delivers a lively clarinet solo on "Frim Fram Sauce", a sprightly tune first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in the 1940s. Ms. Cohen also appears on the Cervini/Aaron Kotler original "Je Danse Avec la Neige", a tune with roots in the swing music of Django Rheinhardt. For Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone", trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis gives the country tune a taste of Louis Armstrong's bluesy style.
Among the other highlights are the beautiful readings of Canadian songwriter Allister MacGillivray's haunting "Song For the Mira" and Charlie Chaplin's "Smile", the latter featuring a fine bass solo. Mr. Aronoff's bowed bass lines on the first verse of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" adds an ethereal touch yet it's Ms. Cervini's stunning reading of the lyrics that truly stands out. The bassist is the sole accompanist on "Drivin', Cryin', Missing You", a song composed by K.T. Oslin for her final recording (released in 2001). With its hint of blues and soul and the hearty bass lines, the piece is the perfect close to an excellent musical experience.
"Jazz Country" is a wondrous place, a musical heaven on earth created by Amy Cervini in collaboration with Jesse Lewis and Matt Aronoff plus their talented guests. Kudos to producer Matt Wilson and recording engineer Brian Montgomery for the intimate sound on this recording, as warm as any you'll ever hear on a CD. For more information, go to amycervini.com.
On the quieter side, there is an emotionally rich reading of Gillian Welch's "I Dream A Highway" (the blend of viola and alto saxophone is other-worldly) and the handsome "Three Chords for Jessica" - the shimmering hand percussion of Jennings and Hart's trance-like bass lines on the latter track are sparkling accompaniment for a engrossing long solo from the saxophonist.
There's a "country" feel to the rhythm section and Goldberger's guitar work on "What The Blues Left Behind", all in support of a rustic melody. The guitarist lets loose for a hearty solo, setting the stage for the leader to bring the piece back to the rustic melody. "Grey Dawn, Red Fox" moves stealthily through a number of tempo changes as well as through shifts in sonorities. Kang's viola solo really captures the movements of the fox on a solo that is reminiscent of the sound of the late Billy Bang.
The quintet of musicians led by Sarah Manning make this music come alive at every turn. That is a compliment to the intelligent compositions and arrangements of the leader. "Harmonious Creature" takes elements of jazz, rock, folk and even country music to create its own unique musical environment, one that beckons the adventurous listener. For more information, go to sarahmanningmusic.com.