Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vocal CD of the Month - "Başak Yavuz: Things..."

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
"Başak Yavuz: Things..." (Kalan/Z Müsic Yapim Ltd.)

Rating: **** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Başak Yavuz
Engineered by Kent Heckman
Mastering: Demirhan Baylan
Illustration & Graphic Design: Hatice Çavdar
Liner Notes: Aydin Esen & David Liebman

Featuring: Başak Yavuz (vocals, kalimba, percussion, arrangements), David Liebman (soprano sax & Indian flute), Peter Eldridge (piano & voice), Jeremy Siskind & Wim Leysen (piano), Alex Spradling (acoustic bass), Arthur Vint & Guilherm Flouzat (drums), Richie Barsay (drums & percussion), Sebastian Boehlen (guitar), Matt Holman (trumpet & flugelhorn), Jay Rattman (bass clarinet, alto sax & tenor sax), Curtis Brink (trombone), James L. Shipp (vibes & pandeiro), Yacouba Sissoko (kora), Natalie Galey, Nick Schrire & Brianna Thomas (voices)

One of the best jazz surprises in recent years comes from Turkey! Basak Yavuz is an extremely creative Istanbul-based vocalist, composer and arranger, inspired by Helen Merrill, Norma Winstone and Betty Carter. From modern jazz to minimalism, from blues and world music to chromatic harmony, her music is eclectic, heartfelt, and has the just the right amount of biting honesty. Her songwriting covers the full range of human experience; it can be fragile or aggressive, beautifully simple or deceptively complex, and always tells a compelling story. The originals are stunning, specially the 9-minute long "Hezarfen" (featuring Dave Liebman on soprano sax) "My Moment," "Bu Aralar (Lately)," "The Place," "Mesela (What If") and the title track, on which Bjork's child-like delicacy meets Betty Carter's inflections.

The album also includes inspired rendintions of Irving Berlin's GAS standard "How Deep Is The Ocean," and Jimmy Rowles' masterpiece ballad "The Peacocks;" retitled "A Timeless Place" after vocalist Norma Winstone added lyrics, it features Liebman soloing over a rock-beat provided by drummer Guilherm Flouzat. However, the arrangement of Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart's "He Was Too Good To Me," is a big mistake, transforming an heartfelt ballad (with lots of great recordings by people like Helen Merrill and Chet Baker) on a pseudo-happy tune propelled by an out of place pandeiro.

Başak recently graduated from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Peter Eldridge, Theo Bleckmann, and Darmon Meader, Dave Liebman and Phil Markowitz. She was the winner of the Nardis Jazz Vocal Competition in Istanbul, and has performed with her quintet in the Istanbul Jazz Festival twice. Basak currently teaches jazz voice and ensemble at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

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