Light of Day
is an unusual CD, featuring a rare appearance by the great saxophonist Marion Brown. Although vocalist Devorah Day has been around the New York music scene for some years, this 1999 session is her first, and her voice is a revelation. In Brown's liner notes he refers to Day's vocal gymnastics, and the description is apt. Day's voice has tremendous range, from great delicacy to "a bass note that made me jump out of my seat," as Brown puts it. Day has a wide array of colors at her disposal, but her choices are always judicious, and as a result the songs never lose their melodic pull.
The music has a spare, soulful mood that intoxicates the listener. Its feeling is created in part by the unusual instrumentation: in addition to Day's vocals, there's Brown on alto sax, Booker T and Jorge Sylvester on both tenor and altos, and bassist David Colding. The lack of piano and drums combined with the horns' low tones creates a great deal of space, but although the music is slow and spacious it is never tentative. And it's a pleasure to hear Brown: after a long, illustrious career, his playing on this session taps the essence of his talent, his pure tones coming straight from the heart. Light of Day
draws from a variety of sources: Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi," Jorge Sylvester's "Lila," three originals by Day and the highlight, the standard "Lover Man." The song starts with Day singing several verses a capella; the listener is captivated by her emotional authenticity, and curious what she'll do next. The horn playing is deep and immediate, and overall it's a lovely update on a classic. Also notable is her fresh take on "Dindi," and the original "Freejam"; she's joined on the latter by Kid Lucky, a human beat box who adds a modern element that never detracts from the emotional consistency.
Abaton Book Company is a unique label that has an ear for the unusual combined with a deep commitment to its artists. It has a particular appreciation for female vocalists who stretch boundaries, so Day is a natural addition to the roster. The material came to the label via Bernard Stollman, founder of the legendary label ESP-Disk; Abaton brought in Elliott Sharp to do the remastering, adding a further layer of excellence.
The CD satisfies in terms of musical ideas and musicianship, and in addition achieves a consistency of mood that allows the listener to connect emotionally. Day is a talent with many layers, and Light of Day
is just the beginning of her fruition.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York
Personnel: Marion Brown: Alto Sax;
Booker T. Jones: Alto and Tenor Sax;
Jorge Sylvester: Alto and Tenor Sax;
David Colding: Bass