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September 11, 2007

Review - New York Voices

The Times (UK):

Thanks to Birdland and ten million juke-box renditions of Chanson d’amour, everyone has heard of Manhattan Transfer. New York Voices are much less well-known, despite having been around for a couple of decades. The jazz world is hardly awash with vocal groups so Darmon Meader and his three colleagues ought to enjoy a higher profile.

True, their material can be anodyne at times. The new album, A Day Like This, opens with an audacious setting of the standard Darn that Dream, but then loses momentum amid a bland version of In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning and a sprinkling of workaday originals. Happily, things pick up before the end, with a thumping, ultra-tight big band treatment of No Moon at All and a sprightly detour into early-Seventies Stevie Wonder on the Latin pulse of Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing.

There was no big band on display at Frith Street (Ronnie Scott's), but the group had augmented their backing trio with a compact horn section from the BBC Big Band. With Meader doubling up on tenor sax occasionally, the singers had a weighty palette at their disposal.

They put it to good use on Noticing the Moment, an ingenious scat reworking of the John Coltrane tune Moment’s Notice. The new lyrics by Kim Nazarian and Peter Eldridge made a comfortable fit with the vintage melody, while the solo passages soared with authentic hard bop energy.

There was less to get excited about in the smoother beat of another original number, As We Live and Breathe. But elsewhere the subtle contrast between the voices of Nazarian and Lauren Kinhan repaid attention. And the quartet deserve praise for attempting so many unexpected changes of direction. One of the most stimulating came on a cover of a rarely heard Antonio Carlos Jobim chamber piece, Meu Amigo Radames, a composition which travels a long way from conventional bossa nova. Later, at the end of the set, the singers plunged headlong into the bebop squalls of Jackie – a favourite with that groundbreaking vocal trio, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross – and lived to tell the tale.

Posted by acapnews at September 11, 2007 9:40 PM

Comments

That arrangement of "Wee small hours" - bland? And then a diss on the originals? Sounds like the jazz police sent an officer and unless the tunes fit the tightly defined grid of what is permissable, that Jazz Police officer was having trouble listening to THE MUSIC!

Posted by: theo at October 18, 2007 3:29 AM

I quite dug In The Wee Small Hours, actually I thought it was pretty swangin' Uhhhhh, what planet did you come from reviewer?

Posted by: djazzsinger at March 15, 2008 7:32 PM

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