As a female vocalist offering distinctive, accessible performances of both familiar and new songs, Kerry Linder could quite easily eke out a spot next to Norah Jones and Katie Melua. Singing in Portuguese and English on her debut album, Sail Away with Me
, the Curaçao native’s vocal style can be as haunting as Astrud Gilberto, as gay and sunny as Ella. Paulo André Tavares, who performed and arranged songs on labelmate Marco Figueira’s album Brazilliance
, has the same dual role here. His arrangements on Sail Away with Me
have much in common with those on Brazilliance
, but Linder has the diva-like presence that gives them an extra dose of appeal. She wraps Tavares’ music around herself like a mink coat or a stunning summer dress.
The title track is a self-penned lament for the victims of the September 11 attacks. It evokes the overwhelming grief of that event and encourages optimism without slipping into the easy trap of sentimentalism that afflicts so much of the same. Assisted by rousing solos from trombonist Clark Gayton and saxophonist Anat Cohen, she tackles Baden Powell’s “Deixa” with verve, drifting between English and Portuguese. Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father” is rewarded with a warm, exotic rendition. The Paul Simon lullaby “St. Judy’s Comet” is cast in a folksier, world music light, complete with accordion. A swaying, samba-fied “As Time Goes by” closes the disc—just in case you have any lingering reservations about playing it again.
Sail Away with Me has as much to offer the casual listener as it does the discerning ear. It should go on to introduce Linder to an audience far beyond the New York Brazilian jazz scene, maybe even earning her that blessing and curse of mainstream radio play. If only she retains the good sense to tell the Big Five where to go when they come calling, promising riches and fame in exchange for a major label deal. After Blue Toucan has given these artists such an auspicious start—not to mention one for itself in return—it’s safe to say that the label won't be keen to see them leave anytime soon.
For more Blue Toucan reviews, please see Toucan Play That Jazz Game .