Been listening a lot to "The New Day Bends Light", the self-released debut album of the Erica Seguine/Shon Baker Orchestra. The two leaders (Ms. Seguine is composer, arranger, and conductor while Shon Baker also composers and plays alto and soprano saxophones) formed the 21-member ensemble in 2011. They played intermittently in clubs around New York City and its environs. They entered the recording studio in late August of 2019 with producer Darcy James Argue––the album was originally scheduled to be released in mid-2021 but it's taken until this year for the music to be released.
There's plenty of great music over the course of seven tracks and 66 minutes. A look at the personnel listed below will yield a number of familiar names but the focus should be on the music the two leaders have created for their Orchestra. One can hear the influence of Bob Brookmeyer, Jim McNeely, Maria Schneider, Carla Bley, and others in the arrangements. The original material is top-notch, the soloists stand out, and the sublime voice of Israeli-born vocalist Tammy Scheffer is a brilliant addition. She shines on "Ose Shalom", Nurit Hirsch's adaptation of the final verse of the Kaddish, a prayer recited by Jews throughout the world during the service and as the "Mourner's Kaddish". The words––"He who makes peace in his high places/He shall make peace upon us/And upon all Israel/And let us say Amen"––do not speak of death but are spoken to help bring comfort to the mourner and the community.
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