, has had just such an upbringing, and her debut album Unfolding indicates that she is making the most of it. Still in her early 20s, and a student at the Manhattan School of Music with a couple of years' worth of touring with Trey Anastasio
. The influence of Apfelbaumwith whom both Natalie and her father have collaboratedis also palpable throughout Unfolding, in terms of the music's polyglot rhythmic approach, and its soaring, spiritual-sounding horn harmonies. The opening track, "Flip" is a great example of this. It's a complex, multi-sectioned piece bubbling over with urgent Latin and fusion grooves and lush horn harmonies. Co-written with Adam Nash, "Skylight" is a bit sweeter, with intricate, interlaced, contrapuntal horn melodies. "Echo" is almost a ballad, with swaying 3/4- and 6/8-based rhythms, and wonderful solos by trumpeter Ivan Rosenberg
. "That Kind," featuring a long solo by Apfelbaum, is the album's tour de force. While much of Unfolding seems a little dialed-back, this piece really gets out in left field, and also gives Cressman and her talented rhythm section a chance to strut their stuff.
Cressman's singing takes a back seat to her trombone playing on this disc. Besides her wordless vocals on the original compositions, she sings a couple of standards ("Honeysuckle Rose" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat") and on one of her own pieces ("Reaching for Home"). Of these, the Charles Mingus
collaboration is the highlight. Cressman's arrangement includes an extensive instrumental commentary topped by Rosenberg's fine trumpet solo. "Honeysuckle Rose," by contrast, gets a playful, sunny, hip-hop flavored treatment.Cressman has a fine voice: very straight and pleasantly uninflected, it has a girlish, innocent quality that recalls that of fellow Bay Area denizen (and brass / voice doubler) Sarah Wilson