The title of this album is particularly apt in that it was recorded in Slovenia, finding San Francisco native Laurie Antonioli performing with a Serbian bassist (Nenad Vasilic), an Albanian guitarist (Armend Xhaferi), a German saxophonist (Johannes Enders), and a drummer from New York (John Hollenbeck). From this multinational band comes a program that is equally widespread, featuring compositions by Joe Henderson and Keith Jarrett, as well as original works that draw on classic pop, Eastern European, and Balkan traditions. Antonioli's dark and husky voice draws these diverse elements together, along with the almost equally prominent throb provided by Vasilic.
Antonioli gets to stretch out on the haunting "Where Flamingos Fly, which morphs into an improvisatory flight based on "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair. She employs an arsenal of tricks in a searching, exploratory performance that finds her band following suit. Elsewhere, Antonioli gets to display her scatting prowess on Vasilic's brooding "Tschusch Chochek. I'm of the heretical opinion that scatting was a bad idea in the first place, but if it must be done, at least it can be done in the service of interesting and unique music, as is the case here.
Foreign Affair is a welcome disc that embraces novel styles. It would be illuminating to hear Antonioli and her band tackle some well-known standards in the future. They have a very distinctive sound and performances of more familiar material might yield intriguing results.
Personnel: Laurie Antonioli-vocals; Nenad Vasilic-bass; Johannes Enders-saxophone; John Hollenbeck-drums; Armend Xhaferi-guitar