Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vocal CD of the Month - "Thisbe Vos: Under Your Spell"

Vocal CD of the Month
Thisbe Vos: "Under Your Spell" (Prime Productions)

Produced by Thisbe Vos
Executive Producers: Prime Productions, Alejandro Szita, Michael & Rondi Bellas
Musical Director: Gary Matsumoto
String Arrangements: Jim McMilen
Woodwinds Arranged by Jim McMillen & Thisve Vos
Horns Arranged by Gary Matsumoto
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Nolan Shaheed @ No Sound Studio (Pasadena, California, USA)
Liner Notes: Alejandro Szita

Featuring: Thisbe Vos (vocals), Gary Matsumoto (acoustic piano), Henry Franklin (acoustic bass), Donald Dean (drums), Michael Higgins (guitar), Nolan Shaheed (trumpet), Geoff Nudell (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto clarinet, contra bass clarinet, flute, alto flute), Carl Randall (tenor sax) & The Pasadena Strings Ensemble

The follow-up to "Sophistication," Thisbe's CD debut in 2011, "Under Your Spell" brings more of the same. But in a very positive way. The LA-based singer & composer from The Netherlands returned to the same studio in Pasadena taking many of the same musicians who took part of the previous album, id est, the same rhythm section plus the great trumpeter Nolan Shahhed and the fantastic reedman Geoff Nudell, who played only clarinet on "Sophistication" but now used several other instruments that make him an one-man woodwind section. The cover art is very classy too, including detailed bios of all the musicians on the 16-page booklet.

The success of the debut album allowed Thisbe and the executive producers to add a string section in a couple of tunes, with perfect results specially on the romantic title track, "Under You Spell," featuring Carl Randall on tenor sax. Once again, too, although the vocalist offers nice versions of GAS standards like Jimmy Van Heusen's "I Thought About You" (solos by Gary Matsumoto on piano and the legendary Henry Franklin on bass, a musician I admire since I was still in my teens and he was a member of Freddie Hubbard's combo), Irving Berlin's "Always" (after Tony Bennett's a cappella version on his "Bennett/Berlin" project, it became impossible for anyone to beat it) and Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'," the superlative moments come from her own songs.

Nudell's fabulous overdub work on the opening "Shangai Blues" (written by Thisbe during a visit to that Chinese city) makes it an instant favorite, the album highlight along with the seductive ballad "Under Your Spell." In a completely different musical direction, "Now You Are Here" is clearly inspired by Norah Jones' early years. Nolan Shaheed's muted trumpet steals the show on the bluesy "Just A Fool Over You" (inspired by Jessica Rabbit according to the liner notes), while Nudell once again shines on the coquette "Rue de la Huchette," propelled by the Freddie Green-like guitar of Michael Higgins. Here, there and everywhere, Thisbe's beautiful voice and graceful phrasing make this album a winner.

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