Monica Dillon is a New Orleans-based singer, pianist and songwriter. Her CD All I Have Is A Moment
reveals a musician who has been influenced by and is at home with a number of musical styles, including gospel, R&B, and jazz. Listeners very well could go one of two ways in describing her music. Is she a soul-drenched jazz musician or an R&B musician with some jazz chops? Either description may be correct. The opening cut on the recording, "T.S. Isidore," is tightly wound bluesy funk that features the improvising talents of guitarist Roy Joseph and bassist Edwin Livingston. The vocal "My Baby" has Monica demonstrating a delivery more akin to any number of R&B divas from the past, rather than the sound of a Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, or Cassandra Wilson.
Of the eleven songs on All I Have Is A Moment , Dillon wrote all but the traditional "Jesus Loves Me," the standard "You Don't Know What Love Is," and Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." Her compositional style is varied and offers a challenge to categorize her or determine her specific musical direction. On the tune "Like Friday" Dillon stretches her improvisational legs somewhat more than on previous tunes. She is a very adequate pianist and certainly, with greater experience in the jazz vein, may emerge as an improviser of more profound musical ideas. The tunes "Think of Me" and "No" are straight from a soul background and likely would be destined for playlists on contemporary light jazz radio stations. Dillon borders on the avant-garde, however, with her creatively stark arrangement of the standard "You Don't Know What Love Is." Her utilization of the cello as an expressive voice counter to her own, alongside minimal percussion, works to enhance a cold sarcastic statement of bitter resentment toward a lost love.
"Johnnie's Song" is an upbeat, pleasant, simple and straightforward tune, and on Dillon's very relaxed solo piano rendition of the children's hymn "Jesus Loves Me," she ornaments and only hints at the original melody. The songs "We Make Do" and Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" sound like they are right from out of church. The shaking tambourine in the introduction, Hammond B-3 organ on "We Make Do," and profound lyrics of praise in Mayfield's opus, are enough to convert any sinner. The reprise of "Think of Me" closes the recording, pared down from the earlier one, with Dillon accompanied only by her acoustic piano.
The variety of musical styles that Monica Dillon brings to All I Have Is A Moment could help give her broad appeal to those who enjoy jazz, gospel, or R&B music. On the opposite extreme, however, All I Have Is A Moment may leave a strict aficionado in any one of those three categories feeling left somewhat short. Regardless, All I Have Is A Moment is a very pleasant, creative CD that showcases a talented singer and songwriter.
Personnel: Monica N. Dillon (vocals, background vocals, acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond B-3 organ, percussion), Carl Baham (drums), Jasmine Cardriche (drums), Monica McIntyre (cello, background vocals), Edwin Livingston (acoustic and electric bass), Roy Joseph (guitars)