Carri Coltrane...Eugene McDaniels?. With Flamenco Sketches, emerging jazz vocalist Carri Coltrane waxes her third release for Numoon records. Last year saw the release of The First Time and the seasonal Child in My Heart (reviewed by this critic in last month's AAJ. All three recordings were produced by noted music Renaissance man Eugene McDaniels. McDaniels has acted in a variety of capacities in the music industry since the early 1970s. He sang background vocals on Roberta Flack's Quiet Fire (1971) and Blue Lights in the Basement (1977) while producing Flack's 1993 Softely with These Songs: The Best of Roberta Flack and organist Jimmy Smith's Sit on It! (1976). McDaniels recorded his own album, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. In the mist of all of this he penned tunes, the most notable being "Before You Accuse Me" recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival on Creedence Country and covered by Eric Clapton on Unplugged. He now turns his attention to Ms. Coltrane, a true talent.
Jazz?. Flamenco Sketches is a collection of [presumably] originals that paradoxically swing with a gentle momentum that is nevertheless very powerful. Where Child Inside My Heart was a wistful, moody collection of ethereal jazz/new age, Flamenco Sketches is more jazz oriented, but still not 100% Jazz. The song "Creation" is an excellent example for the entire disc. "Creation" employs an electric piano that is quite reminiscent of Roberta Flack's work in the 70s, in both tempo and time. But just when I thought that, the song takes a 4/4 turn behind Matt Langley's soprano sax that almost put me in a neck brace. Mark Lucas exercises a logical guitar solo next. Beneath all of this is the impeccable Ron Carter, always propelling the song slightly ahead of the beat.
Carri (and friends). Ms. Coltrane's vocals are carefully crafted, conservative without being stodgy, and unusually pristine, whether in high, middle, or low register. "Sketches" and "Passion World" provide her best vehicles, giving her vocal chops the greatest workout (the latter piece has a fine Carter bass solo amongst all of his walking around and double-stops). She is equally adept in fast and slow tempo numbers, though I give her the edge in the faster songs. Her fine vocals are complimented by some notable musicians. Joey DeFrancesco provides muted trumpet support on "Sketches" and "Another Moment Gone" as well as "Two Hump Ride" (where Carri is duets with McDaniels). Payton Crossley provides tasty accents while executing an unerring beat.
Ms. Coltrane has perfectly empathetic support from her sidemen and an assortment of songs that buff her talent to a blinding shine. She has improved artistically on each disc she has released. I look forward to her next release.
Track Listing: Sketches, Creation, Passion World, Hideaway, Another Moment Gone, Cosmic Dancer, Two Hump Ride, Pilgrim Traveller, Too Rare, Melody is You.
Personnel: Carri Coltrane: Vocals, Ted Brancato: Piano, Matt Langley: Soprano Saxophone, Ron Carter: Bass, Mark Lucas: Guitar, Payton Langley: Drums, Joey DeFrancesco: Trumpet, Crusher Bennett: Percussion, Jim Begley: Triangle, Eugene McDaniels: Vocals.