On this very soothing collection of twelve passionate songs, vocalist Andrea Wolper delivers the lyrics with meticulous phrasing, allowing every word to curl oh-so-slowly off her tongue. Accompanying her on perhaps the most emotion-laden track, "Night Time Was My Mother," are trumpeter Frank London, who plays alongside every syllable, and bassist Ken Filiano. Victor Lewis and Jamey Haddad, who split the drumming duties, also make key contributions.
"You and the Night and the Music" differs from most of the selections in that it has a safari-like melody, but that does not detract from the overall tone and feeling of The Small Hours. To the contrary, this piece actually enhances the energy of the remaining eleven songs. Wolper demonstrates her versatility by juxtaposing it with the blues-based "Gray, Not Blue." Filiano and guitarist Ron Affif do yeoman's work, giving this song a boost of energy.
"Today," one of the more up-tempo moments on The Small Hours, draws its toe-tapping melody from Filiano's walking pattern and Affif's crisp notes, while Wolper sings around the accompanists, creatively adding the requisite amount of scat singing. Her sassy approach makes this even more aurally appealing.
This recording is a reminder that the voice is indeed the first instrument. The way Wolper elicits emotion and passion suggests that she actually cares about what she's singing about, and is not simply going through the motions. The Small Hours is strongly recommended, in large part because each selection tells a unique story. And the variety of different moods and tones, interestingly, do complement each other in some cases.
Personnel: Andrea Wolper: vocals and arrangements; Ron Affif: guitar; Ken Filiano: bass; Victor Lewis:
drums (2,4); Jamey Haddad: drums (7,9,11); Frank London: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lou