First there were two, then three and now four. The U.K.-based Shifting Sands quartet has released its second album, Darkest Rose, featuring 13 songs written by original members Deborah Winter and Joanne Lander, along with Mick Hutton.
Winter is a classically trained vocalist who counts among her influences Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Patricia Barber, Ella Fitzgerald and Kurt Elling. Lander, who plays piano and keyboards, has a passion for 19th century piano music. Her influences include Davis, Barber, Bill Evans, Nick Weldon and Theo Travis. Hutton, bass and steel pan, has played more than 5,000 gigs worldwide, covering a wide variety of jazz, including Dixieland and avant-garde. The trio has been joined by Paul Robinson on drums and percussion. Robinson's experience includes playing for Van Morrison and Jan Hammer, among others.
"Darkest Rose is as its title suggests. It's part beauty, part pain with such lyrics as: "your petals shaded by tenderness but edged by a sharp twist. Winter's alto flute voice delivers the lead. Hutton contributes a bass solo that's complemented by Lander's piano. The music is mostly delightful, but darkened by Winter's lyrics. After the solos, she contributes a scat before resuming the lyrical portion.
The brief "Interlude is labeled as instrumental. Winter does offer her voice here, but it sounds more like an instrument than a human, displaying excellent tonal control and range. The track is followed by the melancholy "Solitude. Hutton and Robinson trade in their bass and drums, respectively, for steel pans and congas.
The mood lightens a bit with "Time, which takes on more of a swinging jazz mood. The rhythm shifts gears a couple of times, with Robinson smoothly switching from a straightforward hi-hat/snare beat to an up-tempo pace that employs more cymbals and toms. "Sonnet of Love gets right to the point, lyrically. Winter does sing lead, but most of the emphasis is on the instruments, including a scat by the vocalist.
Throughout most of Darkest Rose, the quartet sticks to a loose formula. Lander and Hutton co-wrote all the tracks, while Winter wrote lyrics for the songs that have them. However, in most cases, the words are few. Winter sings a verse or two, then gives way to the instruments. Each member gets turns at solos, and Winter occasionally offers some wordless vocals. Formula or not, it works.
Track Listing: Darkest Rose; The Sword of Damocles; Ribbon Man; Interlude; Solitude; Time; A Breath Away; Let the Rain Fall; Sonnet of Love; Rainbow Kaleidoscope; Boudica Rising; Silent Dream; Parallel World.
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.