SYLVIA BROOKS – THE ARRANGEMENT
You can tell a lot about a musician from the company she keeps. Ever since Sylvia Brooks started performing in the jazz realm, she has collaborated with some of the Los Angeles’ most expressive and accomplished players. On her simmering 2009 debut Dangerous Liaisons and 2012’s captivating follow up Restless she conjured an erotically-charged, noir-tinged realm by exposing the the deep currents of longing, desperation and heartache running through the American Songbook. Her third release doesn’t dispel the shadows with sunlight so much as switch from black and white to Technicolor as Brooks revels in the vividly detailed and consistently innovative arrangements of Kim Richmond, Otmaro Ruiz, Jeff Colella, Christian Jacob, and Quinn Johnson. From the beginning Brooks distinguished herself with her empathic ability to inhabit a song, turning classic tunes into taut and emotionally revelatory tales. In a major creative leap, she’s also telling her own stories now, contributing to three original songs that blend seamlessly with a diverse program that ranges from Cole Porter to Hank Williams to Lennon and McCartney. What unites the sleekly bespoke arrangements is Brooks’ luscious sound and inviting sensibility. Welcoming listeners into her musical world, she takes them on an exhilarating journey deep into the hidden recesses of the human heart, where love, lust and loneliness contend for primacy. It’s a trip that requires an artist with an exquisite sound and a rarified talent for drawing the best out of her musical partners, and Sylvia Brooks has made The Arrangement.
JENNIFER SARAN – SOULFUL CHRISTMAS
Over the past few years, Hong Kong based alt pop/adult contemporary songwriter and artist Jennifer Saran has recorded uplifting and empowering works with legendary collaborators like Narada Michael Walden, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Carlos Santana. The powerhouse vocalist continues her tradition of holiday releases with the epic 17-track collection Soulful Christmas, a delightful mix of classics and thoughtful, witty originals (including the radio hit featuring the Temptations) that ease stylistically from R&B, pop and jazz to swing, classical and country. With something for everyone, Soulful Christmas won’t just make it to your holiday playlist – it will be your entire holiday playlist! ~ smoothjazz.com
CHANTAE CANN – SOL EMPOWERED
The first we've heard from Chantae Cann – a wonderful singer who grabs our ears right with the very first note on this set – and continues to delight all the way through! Chantae's got this really cool style – kind of light and dreamy, but with a rasp around the edges – a really unique vibe that's completely all her own, and able to captivate without any sense of trick or gimmick at all! There's both a depth and an instant charm to her sound – and she's really one of the freshest female soul singers we've heard in a long time – set up in arrangements that are simple and elegant, and as unassuming as the singer herself. Many tracks feature great Fender Rhodes from Justin C Gilbert – who also produced and arranged most tracks – and titles include "Craters", "Fruition", "Hey Whatcha Say", "U Gotta Love Ya", "The Light", "The Love Above", "Happy Song", "iRise", and "Reason To Live". ~ Dusty Groove