Nov 3 2012
It’s not that far-fetched that a Beatles tune might coax a tear out of me. Those melodies, those perfectly constructed songs, they know how to get their hooks into a listener’s heart. What is unusual is when it’s someone other than the Fab Four to draw it out of me. Vocalist Nicky Schrire opens her album by creating a little medley out of her own “Freedom Flight” as an intro into the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” The rendition isn’t overdone, actually quite subtle, yet is evocative like crazy. It sets the tone for the album, and it establishes the approach of Schrire on the rest of the album.
Your album personnel: Nicky Schrire (vocals), Nick Paul (piano), Sam Anning (bass), John Goldbas (drums, percussion), and guests: Paul Jones (tenor sax), Jay Rattman (clarinet), Brian Adler (percussion), and Peter Eldridge (piano, vocals).
Something I like about Schrire… the way she uses non-word vocalizations, it’s right up my alley. She doesn’t treat them so much like notes as rhythmic tools, much like how some poets excel not as much by the meaning of their words but in the pleasant effect of the words bouncing off the reader’s head. Schrire has that artful talent of voice as percussion, and thankfully, we’re talking the tasteful drumming of a Jon Christensen and the well-trained fire of a Billy Hart.
On “Me, the Mango Picker,” Rattman’s clarinet and Schrire’s vocalizations are butterflies on a summery day, fluttering about lightly, and offering little indications of where they’ll flutter next.
Another Schrire original that works well is “Ode to a Folk Song,” which has her singing demure and keeping notes at a steady simmer until that moment when she lets the group explode with sound, especially a fiery contribution on tenor by Paul Jones.
A couple tracks don’t live up to the standard set overall by the album. The rendition of James Taylor’s “Shower the People” falls flat for the most part, except that the percussion-vocalization collaboration sends the song off very strong. Admission of Material Subjective Bias: I despise James Taylor’s music with an intensity I’m unable to describe without repeated profanities, so unless you possess the taste and wisdom to agree with me on this subject, you might not want to put to weight my opinion of that track too heavily.
But overall, just a real nice album, one that grew on me slowly, but once it got its hooks in me, I warmed up to it real quick.
Released on the Circavision Productions label.
Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.