Sunday, September 1, 2019

Vocal CD of the Month - "New York Voices: Reminiscing In Tempo"

Vocal CD of the Month
New York Voices: "Reminiscing in Tempo" (Origin Records) 2019
Rating: *****

Produced by Elliot Scheiner & Darmon Meader
Recorded & Mixed by Elliot Scheiner
Mastered by Gavin Lurrsen
Edited bu Darmon Meader
Project Coordinator: Dave Love
Photos: Sandrine Lee
Hair: Luisa Pascual
Makeup: Meliza Generosa
Photography Assistant: Jennifer Armstrong
Art Direction & Design: John Bishop

Featuring: Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader & Kim Nazarian (vocals), Andy Ezrin (piano & Rhodes), Peter Eldridge and Alon Yavnai (piano), Will Lee, David Finck, Paul Nowinski (bass), Ben Wittman and Marcello Pellitteri (drums), Gabriel Hahn (body percussion & voice), Jay Ashby and Ben Wittman (percussion), Marty Ashby and Jesse Lewis (guitar), Darmon Meader (alto & tenor sax), Steve Kenyon (baritone sax), Frank Greene and Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet), Mike Davis and Randy Andos (trombone)

Highlights: Dave Brubeck's tour-de-force number "Blue Rondo À La Turk," the opening track from the now classic "Time Out" album in 1959, and later retitled "Round, Round, Round" after Al Jarreau added lyrics in 1981 for his chart-topping album "Breakin' Away"; a surprisingly sunny and light as a feather version of Chick Corea/Neville Potter's "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly," a song never recorded by Corea himself but introduced by Flora Purim in 1976 with a heavy jazz-funk-rock groove; Ivan Lins' samba "É de Deus" (translated to English as "Answered Prayers" by Peter Eldridge); and Duke Ellington/Mel Tormé's brilliant "Reminiscing in Tempo." Top sound quality too!

Thirty years after they began, the members of the vocal jazz quartet New York Voices remain undimmed in their commitment to making music together -- a commitment they celebrate with "Reminiscing in Tempo," released on August 16 by Origin Records. Produced by Elliot Scheiner, the album reaffirms NYV's position in the elite of vocal jazz with an ambitious program of originals, standards, rediscovered jazz gems by Brubeck and Corea, tunes by Ivan Lins and the Beatles, and two pieces by 19th-century Cuban classical composer Ignacio Cervantes.

"Reminiscing in Tempo" features New York Voices' long-lived lineup, with alto Lauren Kinhan, who joined the band in 1992, alongside original members Peter Eldridge (baritone), Darmon Meader (tenor), and Kim Nazarian (soprano). (Originally a quintet, NYV solidified as a four-piece with the departure of Caprice Fox in 1994.) "We're just a big family at this point," Meader says.

Meader is the band's musical director and primary arranger, but all four of the Voices contribute arrangements, ideas, and compositions. "We really try to make sure that the four of us, as a four-headed artist and individually, get as much creative expression as you can garner from the ensemble," says Kinhan. While the stunning, virtuosic "Round, Round, Round (Blue Rondo à la Turk)" mostly comprises Meader's arrangement of Dave Brubeck's classic (with Al Jarreau's lyrics), Kinhan wrote its central vocalese section based on sections of Brubeck and Paul Desmond's original 1959 solos.

Meader and Eldridge co-wrote the arrangement of Fred Hersch's "A Dance for Me," while Nazarian suggested (and contributed ideas for) the Duke Ellington title track, which features lyrics by Mel Tormé. NYV also perform two original compositions, with Meader penning "Moments in a Mirror" and Kinhan and Eldridge joining forces for "The Forecast Is Sunny."

The album also honors the band's inspirations outside of jazz. The Beatles get the NYV treatment with the a cappella closer "In My Life"; their friend and sometime muse, Brazilian singer-songwriter Ivan Lins, is honored with "Answered Prayers (É De Deus)," with a beautiful English lyric by Eldridge. In addition, they enter new territory with their explorations of Cervantes' syncopated classical works "Los Tres Golpes" and "Invitación." "There are still some firsts on this record for New York Voices," Nazarian enthuses, "and after 31 years, I think that's pretty amazing!"
 (Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader, Kim Nazarian)

New York Voices began in the mid-1980s at Ithaca College, when Peter Eldridge, Kim Nazarian, and Darmon Meader came together in the school's vocal jazz ensemble. Director Dave Riley included all three of them, as well as Caprice Fox, in an ensemble he'd been invited to bring on a tour of European jazz festivals. It went over so well that they decided to stay together and become a professional ensemble, moving to New York City in 1988. There they met Sara Krieger, who became the fifth member of the band Riley had named "New York Voices."

Krieger left the band in 1991, to be replaced by Lauren Kinhan. After two more years as a quintet, Fox moved on to other things in 1994, leaving the band in the quartet formation in which it would continue. With the dawn of the 21st century, NYV increased its currency in the jazz world via collaborations with institutions such as the Count Basie Orchestra, Paquito D'Rivera, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. They also launched a jazz education initiative, inaugurating its Vocal Jazz Camp for aspiring jazz singers in 2008.

With "Reminiscing in Tempo" -- their first non-holiday album under their own power in over a decade -- New York Voices show their energy and inspiration to be unfaded, and their chops and taste only improved in their longevity. "It's four grown-up people who are content in themselves," says Eldridge. "It's somewhere between a fine wine and an old married couple."

New York Voices will be performing in the coming months at the following venues: 9/14 The Great Hall, Needham, MA; 11/8-9 Cuesta Vocal Jazz Festival, San Luis Obispo, CA; 11/10 Yoshi's, Oakland; 11/12-13 Jazz Alley, Seattle; 11/17 William Paterson U., Wayne, NJ; 12/1 Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; 12/5 Arizona Musicfest, Scottsdale, AZ; 12/6 The Sheen Center, NYC; 12/13-15 Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Photo: Sandrine Lee