With a unique style and the gift of creativity, Lenora Zenzalai Helm expands the boundary of jazz vocalists with her new recording entitled Precipice. Accompanied by an extremely adept rhythm section consisting of emerging jazz lions Nasheet Waits on drums, Taurus Mateen on bass, and the ultra-talented pianist Stanley Cowell; Helm offers a view into her rich repertoire. A multifaceted artist, LZH is a composer, teacher, and also served as the U.S. Jazz Ambassador in 1998. But at the heart of the matter; she is a talented vocalist. Her previous recording Spirit Child received good reviews with anticipation of further ...read more
After reading Stanley Cowell’s acclamatory liner notes to Spirit Child, I was prepared to embrace the second coming of Sarah, Billie, Ella and Carmen in one glorious package. Lenora Zenzalai (“Zen–zay–lay,” Zulu for “spirit child”) Helm is a talented young singer who certainly shows promise, but no one could live up to the kind of advance praise that is showered upon her. I suppose I should have listened first, read later. Writers who are being paid by the compliment can sometimes get carried away and oversell the product. That seems to be the case here, although Helm does her best ...read more
In her debut recording, singer Lenora Zenzalai Helm scat-sings and transforms poignant lyrics in an array of jazz styles. Helm, who has a vocal degree from The Berklee College of Music in Boston and has represented the U.S. State Department on a month-long tour of Africa, has put together a winning team effort. However, the singer’s tendency to allow the pitch to waver and to withhold support when vocal projection is demanded by the arrangement, detracts in specific instances.
From start to finish, the session runs the gamut from echoes of Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue" at the start, to the ...read more