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4inObjects' debut recording introduces a full-bodied new voice in jazz singing, backed up by a superb band studded with some of the most talented players to be found anywhere.
Yoon Sun Choi's singing is strong and direct. She has good control and intonation and handles subtleties with an unfussy assuredness. She doesn't whisper much, but neither does she overdo the blusterthough she can belt, especially when the band gets up to full volume. In concert the diminutive singer sheds vanity, contorting her face in whatever way she needs to get the sound she wants. Her lyrics are intimate and poeticin a good way.
The first-rate band features at least two of the most promising younger exponents of New York's amazingly vital jazz scene: pianist Jacob Sacks and bassist Dave Ambrosio, not to pass over the fine work of Jacob Garchik on trombone and Dan Weiss on drums. In addition to her vocal talents, Choi knows a good musician when she hears oneor four, as it were. The music ranges from vamp-based originals to an inspired rendition of Burt Bacharach's "Close to You . 4inObjects is a regular at 55Bar, so go on, catch them live.
And now for something completely different. Monika Heidemann fuses rock, jazz and contemporary classical styles on Bright. Heidemann has a strikingly different manner of singing than Choi, mostly employing an uninflected delivery common in rock and yet also she reaches further out into experimental territory with strikingly original vocalese passages and layered parts that sound freely improvised. Although some of her music has the punch and grind of rock, other styles are clearly heard in the interstices and on quieter tracks and there are knotty melodic runs that recall Zappa's microtonal music.
Heidemann has also assembled a first-rate band, which includes the superb vibes player Matt Moran and drummer Take Toriyama, both of whom are increasingly omnipresent in the Downtown scene. Khabu Doug Young's worldly guitar playing is facile and effective, in the tradition of Alan Holdsworth's slick wizardry.
Both recordings might be excellent core samples of where jazz vocals are and are going. Judging from the quality of the music, they won't be going alone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.