The album closes with a solo performance of Méndez's "Cucurrucucú Paloma" (composed in 1954), just Camila Meza and nylon string guitar. The song tells of the story of the mourning dove (the title translate as the "Coo-coo dove") and the singer's loss of a loved one. The piece seres as a lovely coda to a delightful recording. "Ámbar" may have taken two years to come to light (six, if you count how long Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra have worked on the material) but the wait has certainly been worth it. A delight from start to finish!
For more information, go to www.camilameza.com.
Here's the NPR Jazz Night In America performance by the ensemble:
On an album whose focus is on the voice, one cannot diminish the role Alan Pasqua plays in its success. Both his piano solo and whistling are one of highlights of the opening track, Ms. Souza's "Circus Life." He unpacks his melodica for a delightful, accordion-inspired, solo on Galliano/Elling's "Parisian Heartbreak." Pasqua's collaboration with Kurt Elling and Philip Edward Galdston, "And We Will Fly" brings the program to a close. The Brazilian feel, heightened by the dancing rhythm section, also includes the fine acoustic guitar work of Koonse (shadowed by the deep cello tones played by Stefanie Fife).
"Crowded Heart" shows Judy Wexler at her finest. Never one to overwhelm her songs with vocal trickery, Ms. Wexler caresses melodies, reaches for the emotional heart of each song, and, with the aid of Alan Pasqua, gives listeners an experience that resonates beyond the recording, settling in one's own crowded heart.
For more information, go to judywexler.com.
Here's the title track:
Drummer Charles Ruggiero, who has worked with Chuck Mangione and Ozzy Ozbourne, first heard The Bird and The Bee on the radio in 2007. The drummer had an epiphany that he could take these malleable songs and create jazz arrangements around them. He called his friend Hilary Gardner (yes, she who is 1/3rd of Duchess) to help him record one of the band's tunes for his 2014 debut EP "Boom Band, Boom Bang" (well, he is a drummer) – Ruggiero was thrilled to discover that Ms. Gardner also loves the band's music. Thus was born the seeds of their duo album "Charles Ruggiero and Hilary Gardner Play the Music of The Bird and The Bee".
There are so many joys to behear on "Charles Ruggiero and Hilary Gardner Play the Music of There Bird And The Bee" from the splendid piano work of Jeremy Manasia to the understated yet intense work of Neal Miner and the drummer/co-leader as well as the sweet, sassy, and honest vocals of the other co-leader. Those myriad joys are also the result of the excellent source material. This album stands nicely on its own but you should also introduce yourself to Inara George and Greg Kurstin's witty duo.
To find out more, go to ruggierodrums.com.
Here's the opening tune: