Judi Silvano’s improvising quartet, Cleome, dares to push with a unique air as her voice melds with the ensemble’s three instrumental sounds in an uproar of motion. Making its flexible journey through space and revealing her extended range, the leader’s voice pierces like a soprano bullet that ricochets through the room in random patterns. Her vocal arrangements make musical sense, however, as she carries each melodic pattern in partnership with saxophonist George Garzone in an outré display that wraps bass and drums around their central focus. Two pieces have lyrics, one sends an instrumental message through Silvano’s effective alto flute rendering and the other portions of her program rely on exciting wordless vocals.
Originally from Philadelphia, Silvano studied classical piano, flute and modern dance at Temple University. After graduation, while pursuing a dance career in New York, she studied composition and arranging with Bob Brookmeyer. It was at a time when Joe Lovano worked with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra that she and Lovano met, later married and turned their sights toward making creative music together. He’s listed as executive producer for this project and recorded half the program.
Silvano puts lyrics to work on three of the album’s nine songs while concentrating on vocalese for effect. She’s strong in both areas: delivering wordless phrases that jump out at you candidly and interpreting lyrics with a sentimental poetic license. Garzone matches her timbre on clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone while sharing in each unpredictable adventure. Employing his tenor on “Boscarob,” for example, he digs in with woeful moans that express the same kind of anxiety that the singer hatches up front. It’s here that bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerry Hemingway toss in their best fireworks to suit the occasion and give Silvano a welcome ride. Working together seamlessly, Cleome is a unique program filled with animated surprises, woven together masterfully.
Track Listing: Cleome; Bougainvillea; Yapi Credi; Hand and Heart; Boscarob; Cocolalla Land; Love in Outer Space; Dobranotz; Sakura.
Personnel: Judi Silvano: vocals, alto flute (4); George Garzone: clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Gerry Hemingway: drums, background vocals (9); Michael Formanek: bass (1-6, 8); John Lindberg: bass (7, 9).