Friday, July 1, 2016
Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Nora McCarthy: Blessings"
Nora McCarthy & The People of Peace Quintet: "blesSINGS" (RedZen Records) 2016
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
Produced by Nora McCarthy
Arranged by Nora McCarthy & Jorge Sylvester
Recorded at Tedesco Studio in Paramus, New Jersey on August 26 & 27th, 2015
Recording & Mixing Engineer: Tom Tedesco
Mastered by Ivan Josepg Goldberg @ Miracle Mastering Studios, NJ
Artwork: Nora McCarthy
Photos: Angela Bruno
Featuring: Nora McCarthy (voice), Jorge Sylvester (alto sax), Pablo Vergara (piano), Donald Nicks (electric bass), Kenny Grohowski (drums)
"blesSINGS" is a modern post bop jazz record that combines several elements to make its powerfully beautiful statement: original compositions and lyrics; various applications of vocal and musical language, inventive improvisation and imaginative arrangements. Most of the tunes were written by Nora herself, but she also performs great versions of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing," Lucian Ban's "Night On Earth," Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris' "Nowhere Everafter" plus two by her partner in life & music, saxophone master Jorge Sylvester: "Akara Moi Moi" and "Nimbus."
The artistry on "blesSINGS" is stunning; the musicianship throughout is exquisite and the overall sound is reminiscent of the great creative jazz recordings of the ‘60s and ‘70s where the artists used their music as a conduit for spirituality and as a reaction to turbulent events that were taking place in the country, much like today: war, racism, civil unrest, terrorism, mass killings.
McCarthy’s highly expressive burnished alto voice soars on every track. Her broad range is full of lovely textures and nuances and her use of dynamics which is basically a lost art among singers today, is wrought with emotion. Her trademark phrasing and innate sense of rhythm demonstrates not only her expert ability to convey a story but her overall understanding of melodic and harmonic structure—she is a masterful musician. McCarthy uses her complete voice, as an instrument and as an interpreter of the word.