New York City-based jazz vocalist Nicky Schrire has two albums to her credit. Freedom Flight
(Circavision Productions, 2012) was well received by AAJ colleague Dan Bilawsky
, who explained her fresh and well-scrubbed appeal thusly: "The London-born, South African-raised, New York-based vocalist bursts onto the scene with this dazzling debut, but she didn't simply materialize out of thin air. This worldly woman has been honing her skills at the Manhattan School of Music and studying with the crème de la crème of the jazz vocal world, including Peter Eldridge
, Theo Bleckmann
, Gretchen Parlato
, Kate McGarry
and Norma Winstone
; it's clear that she's taken their lessons to heart."
The beauty of Schrire's exposure to this august group of singers is that their influence is expressed in her originality and not by any audible characteristics in her singing or composing. That is what artistic influence is all about: evolution, not replication. Schrire's sophomore effort, Space and Time
, brims with this same originality, distilled into a piano/vocal recital format with three different pianists.
The atomization of all musical genres since the 1950s renders classifications like "jazz," "adult contemporary" and simply "popular" fairly meaningless. But the music must go somewhere, and Schrire deconstructs George Gershwin
's "Someone To Watch Over Me" (while, at the same time, completely recasting George Harrison
's "Here Comes The Sun"), so she's called jazz. Much of this recording is like a classical art-song recital, maybe one a really hip Schubert would have assembled.
Schrire's voice is punctilious. Think of Ivory soap: clean and unscented by anything artificial...genuine. The same can be said of her composing. She is not looking to show off with technical fireworks; she is showing off with the unseen and unheard: grace, class and a certain élan. Organically speaking, her instrument is that special gift that is readily recognized as finely tuned and superior, without knowing why.
Schrire favors older material for her standards performance. "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" and Berlin's "Say It Isn't So," not to mention again Gershwin's "Watch," echo from the jazz age and before. Then Schrire sings George Harrison and something as fine as her title piece and anyone trying to pigeonhole this vocalist has lost the critical battle before it has started.
Schrire's supportpianists Fabian Almazan
, Gerald Clayton
and Gil Goldstein
each rise to the occasion, following the direction of Schrire, who keeps everything basic and uncluttered. This is music for the soundtrack of life: joy, peace and hope.
Personnel: Nicky Schrire: vocals; Fabian Almazan: piano (3, 5, 7, 10); Gerald
Clayton: piano (2, 6, 9, 11); Gil Goldstein: piano (1, 4, 8, 12).