For her fifth solo recording, "No One Ever Tells You" (Anzic Records), Ms. Cervini has dug deeper into the blues than in the past, producing a powerful album whose emotions run deep. Her crackerjack band - Jesse Lewis (guitars), Michael Cabe (piano), Matt Aronoff (bass), and Jared Schonig (drums) plus Gary Versace (Hammond B-3 organ on four tracks) - helped to develop the arrangements over the past few years during the ensemble's weekly residency at NYC's 55 Bar.
|Photo: Shervin Lainez|
|Photo: Shervin Lainez|
The album closes with the Percy Mayfield classic "Hit The Road Jack" - Ray Charles had a huge hit with the song in 1961 (the song lasted less than two minutes yet stuck in one's brain all day) and it's fascinating to hear the original demo - click here). But Ms. Cervini replaces the "bounce" of the original with a sultry take that does not have the humor or anger of the original yet there is no missing the singer's intention, that being "get out and stay out". The band takes the place of The Raelettes, Mr. Lewis lays down some fine blues riffs, and the leader caresses the lyrics with just a hint of resignation.
I will tell you that "No One Ever Tells You" is a treat from the opening notes to the soft landing that closes the program. Amy Cervini is a singer, a story-teller, and has a good ear for finding songs that not only fit her voice but also entertain and entrance the listeners. And, the band shines throughout.
For more information, go to www.amycervini.com.
Here's the opening track:
His third album as a leader, "Myths and Morals" (earandeyesrecords), is a solo album of the first order. One can hear the influence of the AACM, especially the work of Famadou Don Moye (Art Ensemble of Chicago) yet Taylor sounds nothing like that famed drummer. There is something so appealing about "Gum Tree", a mbira solo that has a dancing rhythm, the "thumb piano" displaying its percussive side. Other pieces, such as "Abtu and Ahnet" and "Simcha", have a dance feel as well. That latter track, the shortest on the album at 1:44, has an irresistible forward motion. Elliot Bergman joins Taylor, playing a somewhat distorted electric kalimba - one imagines dancing to that beat all night long.
I love the snap of the snare, the thump of the floor tom, the whooshing cymbals, the warp of the high-hat, all of it, and how Chad Taylor is as much an architect as a composer. "Morals and Myths" is fascinating music, well worth investigating.
For more information, go to www.chadtaylordrums.net.
Listen to "Phoenix":
|Photo: Ottawa Citizen|
"Blued Dharma" (self-released) finds the duo through eight spirited performances, including two delightfully different takess of Ray Noble's venerable "Cherokee." It's as if the the first time one hears the song (actually marked as "Cherokee II"), it's in the first set and the musicians excitedly move through the piece. "Cherokee I" sounds like we're now in the third set: the duo's interactions are a bit more contemplative and released but no less enjoyable. Frahm's soprano shines brightly on the title track. After a poetic piano intro, the soprano introduces the handsome melody. If you have never heard Farrugia play, he may remind you of Chick Corea or Keith Jarrett. I hear Bruce Hornsby, especially in the bounce created by his left hand and his impressive facility.
Sit in the back porch (if you have one) or in a shady park on a lovely day and just listen to delight-filled music that makes up "Blued Dharma". Adrean Farrugia and Joel Frahm must have had great fun making this album as the music has a professional (not business-like) yet carefree feel. Trust, melody, and wide-open ears, the duo makes magical music certain to excite the mind and soothe the soul.
For more information, go to adreanfarrugia.com.
Here's the final track: