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Mercedes Nicole: Beautiful Alignment (2013)

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Mercedes Nicole: Beautiful Alignment How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
, Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone all make appearances in the biography of Seattle-based singer Mercedes Nicole. She has been a creative face in jazz since the turn of the century, writing, producing and performing tributes to Simone, Etta James
Etta James
Etta James
1938 - 2012
vocalist
, and Dinah Washington
Dinah Washington
Dinah Washington
1924 - 1963
vocalist
. With Beautiful Alignment, Nicole debuts on disc with a collection of songs reflecting her preferences and influences as well as her own original view of jazz vocals.

Leading a trumpet-fronted quartet, Nicole nods at Holiday with "God Bless The Child" and "Good Morning Heartache," while winking at Simone with "Afro Blue," plus a handful of original compositions that sit well beside the canon. Nicole's approach is a simple one: make simple, uncomplicated music with a distilled band playing refined arrangements. Her mantra might be "doing more with less to produce the infinite." Nicole is fond of altering the meter of her delivery as well as the beat pacing. She is comfortable singing about a half beat behind the band.

This approach completely recasts Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies." With an arrangement of descending rhythmic figures alternating with frantic 4/4 pacing, the song is updated in a clever and inventive way. The approach is the scripture on which her own compositions rest. Nicole's bright alto curls within the singer's "Hiding" and "Timeless." Pianist Marc Seales' accompaniment is spare, as are his solos. He endeavors to play only those notes necessary and this pays off. Bassist Evan Flory-Barnes and West Coast-fixture brass specialist Thomas Marriott
Thomas Marriott
Thomas Marriott
b.1975
trumpet
are always tasteful, never crowding the vocalist while she practices her trade rather well.

Track Listing: Feeling Good; Afro Blue Introduction; Afro Blue; Blackberry Winter; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; God Bless the Child; My Heart is Dancing; Breathe Again; Blue Skies; Timeless; Good Morning Heartache; Hiding.

Personnel: Mercedes Nicole: vocals; Marc Seales: piano; D’Vonne Lewis: drums; Thomas Marriott: trumpet and flugelhorn; Evan Flory-Barnes: bass; Jeff Busch: percussion; Cheryl Wilder, Teresa Wornstaff: background vocals.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Vocal


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