No song is a simple thing in Lisa Sokolov
's hands, for she delves into the magical possibilities of the voice and the beauty and mystery of words. Her third album, A Quiet Thing
, extends the power of her earlier recordings, continuing her progression towards the majestic and ecstatic "silence" of the universe. She bills her new recording as "solos, duos, trios and quartets," utilizing Cameron Brown
(bass), Todd Reynolds
(violin), Gerry Hemingway
(drums), John DiMartino
(piano) and Kermit Driscoll
Sokolov is a musical adventurer: Even when she sings something familiar, she constantly surprises. The album opens with one of those, the standard "My One and Only Love". With her own tolling piano chords as accompaniment, she goes from a "speaking-in-tongues" scat to an ethereal and then down-and-dirty reading of the lyrics. Sokolov is a master of breath and sound control, making the song unusual, hypnotic and freshly reconceived. Her stunning vocal array also gives new shape to "You Go to My Head," "Ol' Man River," the title track (Kander-Ebb) and "Lush Life". There's also new material and others to which she's given lyrics. Of special note is Sokolov's arrangementwith her son Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez on celloof the Yom Kippur prayer "Kol Nidre".
Sokolov's performance at Sweet Rhythm last month was dazzlingly instructional, demonstrating the power in her voice and her appealing mix of spontaneity and total control. She opened her performanceleading a band that included Brown, Hemingway and Sokolov-Gonzalezwith a kind of a cappella chant that offered a promise for the evening: "Something good will sing through me." From there she seamlessly sailed into "O What A Beautiful Morning," where she soon found another powerful lyric that in some measure defines how she approaches sound: "The sounds of the earth they are music." The evening was a constant surprise, from a funky and ever-evolving "Chain of Fools" and Hemingway's "Succotash" to breathtaking interpretations of standards from A Quiet Thing"Ol' Man River," "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love".
Personnel: Lisa Sokolov: vocals, piano; Todd Reynolds: violin; Cameron Brown: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums; Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez: cello; John DiMartino: piano; Kermit Driscoll: electric bass.