Laurie Antonioli: Foreign Affair (2005)
Foreign Affair is Laurie Antonioli's debut as a solo artist, although she has appeared on record with artists such as George Cables and Joe Bonner. Antonioli is a musical singer gifted with a flexible, darkish voice and soulful, natural phrasingand as witnessed on this record, she has surrounded her attractive vocal stylings with fairly interesting, though at times restrained and minimalistic arrangements.
Throughout this record Antonioli's vocals direct and steer the musings of the supporting band, which consists of bassist Nenad Vasilic, guitarist Armend Xhaferi, drummer John Hollenbeck, and saxophonist Johannes Enders. The album is memorable mostly for slow and contemplative tracks like the opening "Ballad For Djole," "Holy Water," "I Know You," and "Mayana," while Enders' saxophone further enhances the album's overall moody emotions throughout. The opener is a slow track written by bassist Nenad Vasilic where a light, smooth feel blends with Antonioli's smoky vocals. "Tsuchusch Chochek" is a swinging piece with repetitive melodies where she seems inspired by the band to fully demonstrate her vocal possibilities. Her compelling, emotional performance on the final track, "Music Box," makes for a poignant duet with Enders' soprano sax.
One would usually expect obvious references to Balkanesque melodies or rhythms from someone who originates from this region (since Antonioli's origins are in Montenegro). However, these influences are more sublime and deep, rather than ready-made or stereotypical. Antonioli's passsionate and soulful performances reveal an artist who is not afraid to stray away on occasion from the classical vocal jazz tradition in order to deliver performances that are accessible and enjoyable.
Track Listing: Ballad For Djole; Holy Water; Where Flamingos Fly; Tschusch Chochek; I Know You; Mayana; Crni Narcis; The Cure; Music Box.
Personnel: Laurie Antonioli: vocals; Nenad Vasilic: bass; Johannes Enders: saxophone; John Hollenbeck: drums; Armend Xhaferi: guitar.