Chloe Brisson: Blame It On My Youth (2012)
Chloe Brisson, a young, prodigiously talented singer in the early stages of a presumably long and fruitful career, had the good fortune to record in exactly the right circumstances. Saxophonist Fred Haas, Brisson's teacher and mentor, wrote arrangements for thirteen tracks that are tailor-made for her voice and interpretative skills. Nonetheless, Blame It On My Youth is much more than a singer's showcase. Throughout most of the record, the vocals, arrangements, and instrumental solos are of equal importance. Haas extracts the essence of tunes from the Great American Songbook, finds imaginative ways to honor Brisson's voice, and wisely utilizes the talents of an exceptional band.
His catchy, fully composed chorus for three horns immediately follows Brisson's "Day By Day" vocal. On the opening of the same track, as well as at the onset of "Deed I Do," while the rest of the band lays out, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson are employed as foils for the playful movement of Brisson's voice. A lush introduction to "I Fall In Love Too Easily," scored for Wind, Haas' tenor, trumpeter Marvin Stamm and trombonist Ben Williams, swells to a sweet climax as the singer enters.
Possessing ample vocal technique and evincing wisdom well beyond her seventeen years, Brisson knows how to deliver lyrics cleanly and economically. She sings expressively at low dynamic levels, and even on the up=tempo burner "Just One Of Those Things," her diction is crystal clear. Utilizing strategies ranging from clipped phrasing to drawing out individual syllables, Brisson always gets to the heart of a song and conveys basic human emotions without resorting to excess of any kind. The disc's ballads"Blame It On My Youth," "I Fall In Love Too Easily," and "Someone To Watch Over Me"are stunning displays of storytelling, in which innocence and world weariness never sound mannered or contrived.
The record's soloists, particularly Haas and Stamm, have stories of their own to tell. In just a few bars, Haas' gauzy sounding tenor evokes a profound sense of loneliness and isolation immediately before Brisson enters on "Blame It On My Youth." Beginning as if from a distance and then gradually coming into clearer focus, his single chorus during "Day By Day" is simultaneously tasteful, firm, understated, and swinging. Stamm's thirty-two bar "What A Difference A Day Made" solo is a model of patient, logical development wrapped in a clear, full-bodied tone. A brief flurry of notes at the end of the sixteenth bar serves as a catalyst for a series of edgy, rapid fire lines that gradually come down to earth.
Blame It On My Youth is one of those rare recordings that pulls at the heart strings and engages the mind. It's a good bet that Brisson will someday be the centerpiece of another great record. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy this accomplished, deeply moving piece of work.
Track Listing: Send For Me; Day By Day; Blame It On My Youth; So Long You Fool; Dindi; Just One Of Those Things; I Fall In Love Too Easily; What A Difference A Day Made; Deed I Do; Aretha; How High The Moon/Ornithology; Someone To Watch Over Me; I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter.
Personnel: Chloe Brisson: vocal; Fred Haas: saxophone; Bill Mays: piano; Marvin Stamm: trumpet; Ben Williams: trombone; Matt Wilson: drums; Martin Wind: bass; Sheila Jordan: vocal (13).
Record Label: Self Produced