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March 26, 2012

Stretching Vocal Cords Across Time

New York Times:

With its sweeping survey of vocal groups from the early 1930s into the mid-’70s the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists series moved further into rock ’n’ roll territory on Saturday evening than I can remember it venturing. At the first of five shows, songs by Abba, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Ronettes shared common ground with the Boswell Sisters, the Andrews Sisters and the Mills Brothers. The unlikely host and artistic director, the gifted conductor and musical theater archivist Rob Fisher, was not the person you would expect to oversee such a project.

The show, “In Perfect Harmony: Celebrating the Vocal Group,” featured only two acts: New York Voices, a versatile pop-jazz vocal quartet that includes Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge; and the DiGiallonardo Sisters (Nadia, Daniela, and Christine), a Brooklyn trio. The program required both groups, which frequently joined voices, to stretch way outside their comfort zones.

Instead of offering a chronological history of pop harmonizing, the show jumped around in time, with segments devoted to doo-wop, the Beach Boys and ’60s girl groups. Punctuating the songs were radio-station call-letter jingles and famous commercials.

The New York Voices have a smooth blend and a comfortable mastery of pop-jazz harmony not unlike the far more vigorous, swinging and adventurous Manhattan Transfer. Their best moment was a light, jet-propelled rendition of the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross classic “Cloudburst.” Too often they were required to apply their technique to songs like the Mamas and the Papas’ hits “California Dreamin’ ” and “Monday, Monday,” in which individual voices within the blend gave the original hit records a much stronger personality. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at March 26, 2012 12:00 AM