Sunday, October 30, 2011

Andrea Wolper - Deborah Pearl

Andrea Wolper The Small Hours (VarisOne Jazz 402 4569 3101 2)  *  Parallel Lives (Jazzed Media JM 1054)
Andrea Wolper has a fluid voice, which she uses in an attractive low-key style, drawing subtle nuances from lyrics, and shaping vocal lines into jazz performances. For some years she worked regularly with guitarist Ron Affif and bassist Ken Filiano and the interplay of the three on the first of these CDs makes clear that this is neither singer with band, nor band with singer but a co-operative trio of which every member is an equal part. The extent of Andrea's musicianship is apparent from the fact that she is also responsible for the arrangements and these are exemplary.
The latest of these CDs, released in September 2011, has Wolper and Filiano in collaboration with guitarist Michael Howell, pianist Kris Davis and electronic percussionist Michael TA Thompson. The group explores new possibilities in some standards, including a gorgeous Skylark, touches upon songs from more recent times, among them Joni Mitchell’s Song To A Seagull, and also provides three eloquent examples confirming that in addition to her singing talent, Wolper is an accomplished songwriter. Clearly, this gifted artist has much to offer those who delight in contemporary jazz singing.

For the past quarter-century, my reviews and articles have appeared in Jazz Journal, which can be visited on-line. From there it is possible to subscribe for this exceptional monthly magazine that offers insightful thoughts on jazz today and jazz from long ago.

Deborah Pearl Souvenir Of You (Evening Star ES115)
For many years, Deborah Pearl was a friend of Benny Carter and with his encouragement developed her talent as both singer and songwriter. All these elements come together on this very good 2011 CD, which is subtitled New Lyrics to Benny Carter Classics. Although this is a debut release, it is immediately clear that Pearl is highly accomplished as both singer and lyricist. The words she has written for several of the master jazzman’s compositions bring attractive concepts, reflecting both period and latterday elements. Some of the compositions are instantly familiar, others perhaps less so but these no less admirable for their melodic charm.
On two tracks, Happy Feet (At The Savoy) and Anniversary Dance, the backing to Pearl’s vocal lines has been taken from a concert at Rutger’s by a big band fronted by Carter and featuring his inimitable alto saxophone. On these and all of Carter’s other compositions, which include Doozy, Johnny True, An Elegy In Blue and Souvenir Of You, Pearl helps demonstrate how timeless is Carter’s music and how his admiration for others, such as Johnny Hodges, illuminated his work. With skilful accompaniment from pianist-arranger Lou Forestieri, bassists Chris Colangelo and Kenny Wild, and drummers Dave Karasony and Jimmy Branly, Pearl makes an impressive mark that should appeal to many.  

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