Daria: Feel the Rhythm (2005)
San Francisco is noted as a proving ground for hard-swinging female jazz vocalists such as Madeline Eastman and Kitty Margolis. To this august group the name of Daria must be added. Feel the Rhythm is an exquisitely crafted album that shows off the multiple talents of the singularly named Daria.
The record begins with a Latin funk version of "All or Nothing at All" that brings a new freshness and excitement to this standard. Indeed, I was reminded of Kitty Margolis' hard-driving version of this tune that seemed so fresh and new when it first appeared about a decade ago. Daria is supported by an excellent rhythm section that includes all-star Latin percussionist Alex Acuna.
Daria's songwriting abilities are quite impressive, particularly on the Latin tune "Turn Around." Wayne Wallace's overdubbed one-man trombone section and his solo obbligato add an especially nice touch to this straight-ahead Latin swinger.
One of the highlights of the album is Daria's bossa nova rendition of Alec Wilder's haunting and seldom-performed "Moon and Sand." Most listeners have probably only heard Chet Baker's iconic recording of this tune that was featured on the documentary film Let's Get Lost. While Baker's version is by far the more astringent, Daria's performance has a clarity and purposefulness that seems ideally suited to the song's lyrics about the contingent nature of requited love. Frank Martin's piano accompaniment is restrained, harmonically subtle, and reminiscent of Fred Hersh's accompaniments of Janis Siegel.
Daria's profound understanding of Brazilian music is heard to great effect in her performance of Antonio Carlos Jobim's waltz "Luiza," which she sings in Portuguese. The Turtle Island String Quartet plays with her rhythm section in this lovely arrangement by pianist Frank Martin. In his recorded performances of this tune, Jobim generally performed the work at a faster tempo, but the slower tempo of Daria's version works equally well.
Feel the Rhythm is a tremendous album that features a wide variety of musical styles. Daria is an outstanding vocal talent, equally facile in straight-ahead swinging, ballads, and Latin tunes. She has surrounded herself with great sidemen, especially pianist/arranger Frank Martin and trombonist Wayne Wallace. In sum, Daria is the real deal.
Track Listing: All or Nothing at All; Under the Moon and Over the Sky; Turn Around; Sunshine of Your Love; Feel the Rhythm; Moon and Sand; Fragile; Luiza; Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing; Dreams of a Tango
Personnel: Daria, vocals; Frank Martin, piano; Troy Lampkins, bass; William Kennedy, drums; Jose Neto, guitar; Marc Russo, alto sax; Alex Acuna, percussion; Wayne Wallace, trombone; Murray Low, piano; Saul Sierra, bass; Paul Van Wageningen, drums; David Yamasaki, guitar; Michael Spiro, percussion; Danny Caron, guitar; Gary Brown, bass; Celso Alberti, drums; Marquinho Brasil, percussion; The Turtle Island String Quartet; Rich Kuhns, bandoneon; Laura Boytz, cello