How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Vocalist Cristina Morrison is as worldly and well-traveled as they come. She was born in Miami and spent time living in Rome, Quito, the Galapagos Islands and Los Angeles before landing in the Big Apple, from whence she recorded this fine debut. Morrison possesses a voice that's alternately soothing, sassy, straightforward or sly, and she brings it to bear on a diverse array of original and oft-covered offerings.
Six of the nine tunes on this date were written by the lyrics-and-music team of Morrison and saxophonist Christian Hidrobo, and they touch on different stylistic ideals with each piece. "Summer In New York" shifts back and forth between a slow and slick setting and an upbeat, polished swing feel, "Red Mafia & Jass" is an extroverted, funky rock number that's high on energy, and "Fifteen Day Affair" is a soulful vehicle that features Hidrobo and harmonica ace Gregoire Maret
. The band enters samba territory with "Stand Still," which opens with some of Maret's breezy musings before settling in on a bouncy, Brazilian-based groove, and they dial things down for "Perfect Little Storms," which is far mellower than the title might suggest. "I Love" proves to be the only number with issues, as Morrison's delivery is a bit uninspired, but this is a minor issue afloat in a sea of majorly enjoyable musical moments.
While Maret is highest profile performer on the date, he isn't the only stand-out instrumentalist. Trumpeter Walter Szymanski steals the show whenever his horn enters the picture and Hidrobo's alto saxophone work is soul-stirring. All of these men help to enhance the emotional weight of these songs, but it's Morrison's vocals that carry the music. While she sounds best in intimate environments, where her purity of tone ("Perfect Little Storms") or bluesy bona fides (the outset of "Fine & Mellow") are on display, she knows how to sell songs in any style and setting, making her worthy of attention.
Track Listing: Summer In New York; Fifteen Day Affair; I Love; Stand Still; What A Difference A Day Makes; Red Mafia & Jass; East Of The Sun; Perfect Little Storms; Fine & Mellow.
Personnel: Cristina Morrison: vocals; Christian Hidrobo: alto saxophone; Walter Szymanski: trumpet; Steve Einerson: piano; Willard Dyson: drums; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Alex Alvear: electric bass; Vinny Valentino: guitar; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Sammy Torres: percussion; Alex Harding: baritone saxophone; Navijio Cevallos: requinto; Nanda Proano: vocals.