Melody Diachun: EQ (2008)
Many critics love to debate if a record is jazz or pop or funk. However, many excellent recording and performing artists are sometimes either genre-bending or genre-defying. Besides, to serious fans of the art, there is either good music or bad musicthat which is worth listening to or that which is eminently forgettable. Among the sea of albums released today, Melody Diachun's recommended EQher third as leaderoffers a slightly different view of a vocalist fast becoming one of the music's more daring chanteuses.
EQ is mellow. But make no mistake about it; this record simmers with emotion almost like a slow burn as the singer continues to showcase exquisite intonation, phrasing and sense of time. Vocalist Sheila Jordan once welcomed Melody Diachun to one of her celebrated vocal workshops and Diachun learned her lessons well. Like how, for instance, that the need for pitch is relative. Diachun now has firm command over quarter notes and lets them cascade throughout her melodic excursions across a song's architecture. Examples include "October," an extraordinary cover of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man In Paris," Radiohead's "High And Dry" and the wonderful send up of Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years."
But this is far from a coy album of cover songs. The repertoire includes three songs by the team of Diachun and husband/bassist Doug Stephenson, two with Edmonton, Alberta based-songwriter, Chris Andrew and two solo efforts by Diachun. The songs explore several rhythmic avenues and are quite bold in the manner in which they explore adventurous harmonics. "Little Red Address Book" is a fine example of this musical adventure and "October" is perhaps the most memorable of the charts that Diachun has invented.
There has been talk of the resurgence of the Fender Rhodes in recent musical history. The instrument made famous in jazz by illustrious pianists such as Chick Corea and Josef Zawinul is sliding its way back into the idiomatic matrix again. Many find this a tad retro, but when used with sonic invention and its unique sonority, the Rhodes can become a moody foil for the soaring saxophone. In this instance Tilden Webb takes this interplay to a fine degree of beauty, often laying the ground for Cory Weeds to enter the proceedings on his horn, or creating a thrilling tonal counterpoint for Stephenson's bass. Both instrumentalists excel on many of the tracks, as does drummer Dan Gaucher. And as the voice is showcased on this record, they are unobtrusive, until called upon to solo.
Melody Diachun has negotiated her way through this record with soulful confidence and gives notice that her vocal prowess is on the rise and is easy to be mesmerized by.
Track Listing: When Beauty Reigns; Lothario; Spanish Joint; Spin; Free Man In Paris; Invocation; October: High And Dry; Little Red Address Book; Still Crazy After All These Years.
Personnel: Melody Diachun: voice; Cory Weeds: soprano saxophone; Tilden Webb: Fender Rhodes; Doug Stephenson: bass; Dan Gaucher: drums.