122

Lionelle Hamanaka: A Jazz Bouquet

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Scat singing comes naturally to Lionelle Hamanaka. Like most of us, she learned it through her parents' love of good music. Growing up in Harlem and the Lower East Side, Hamanaka was exposed to the recordings and live jazz performances that would later form her natural grasp of vocalese, songwriting, and lyric interpretation. The acoustic sounds she works with on her debut album come from a respect for tradition; hers is a top-notch New York rhythm section.

Hamanaka's lyrics to Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” open the session with a little of yesterday and sampling of today. It's a beautiful song in almost any setting, and here her lyrics provide a fresh look. Hamanaka's originals "Samurai Woman" and "Singerprints" fuse emotional blues with a free-swinging spirit. The message is clear: don't look for any run-of-the-mill appearances when you experience what she has to say. Hamanaka's art is indeed a surprising form of jazz bouquet that cries out for more.

One high point of the session, "Deep Night," includes dramatic tension and release from a staid quintet that includes guests Joe Wilder and Roland Alexander. A swingin’ bossa arrangement of “Till There Was You” shows off the singer's powerful vocal range. Recalling the unique vocal style of Betty Carter, she bips and bops up, down, and all over the place. Hamanaka interprets each song from the heart and with something new to add each time out. Her individual voice stands alone among the hundreds of jazz singers plying their wares today in every major city. This artist has something different to share. Audio samples from her album are available from Hamanaka's web site. Her well-put Internet stopover provides a thorough and timely overview of the New York jazz scene in the form of a newsletter, which she calls Jazz Notes. Duke Ellington’s “The Feeling of Jazz” provides a different look, and another glimpse at what brings memories of Betty Carter to the forum. She is at her best when scat singing – as on "My Heart Stood Still," where she trades fours with bassist Ron McClure – or when interpreting the blues – as she does soulfully on "Singerprints" and "Samurai Woman." Hamanaka possesses a unique style of vocal jazz: a delicate combination of the past and the future.


Title: A Jazz Bouquet | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Lionelle Hamanaka


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Like, Strange" CD/LP/Track Review Like, Strange
by Troy Collins
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "I Know Who I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Pole Of Inaccessibility" CD/LP/Track Review Pole Of Inaccessibility
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Dawg Yawp" CD/LP/Track Review Dawg Yawp
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 27, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.