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Syncopation: A New Dance

C. Michael Bailey By

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I am getting ill tempered in my old age. I wanted to finally find a disc that I disliked, and I thought it had been delivered in the form of A New Dance by the vocal quartet Syncopation. There was everything not to like. As a devotee to the Manhattan Transfer, I felt there was nothing else to be gained listening to a group of kids trying to dethrone the great New York Quartet.



On, Me of little faith.



A New Dance is a throughly modern, bright, and fresh take on ensemble jazz vocals that effectively updates the entire genre. "You Don’t Know What Love Is" has a lightweight, breezy bossa personality and "My Romance" at first blush sounds as if arranged by 'NSync and Nelson Riddle. These songs are not bad, but they also in no way prepare you for the remainder of the recording.



Cyndi Lauper’s "Time After Time," one of the last "standards" created by Miles Davis, starts off cool and calm and then rocks. Christine Fawson’s broad alto is recorded somewhat back, even with the piano. When the entire vocal ensemble enters, the magic of this group becomes patently apparent in their superb taste in arrangements. There are more right and left vocal turns than you expect, providing constant delight by what is just around the next corner.

The centerpiece is a light speed "Cherokee," featuring Tiger Okoshi’s best Dizzy Gillespie. This is pure bebop and Okoshi illustrates the difference between a good trumpeter and a great one. The scat singing is at speed and breathtaking. The best tracks are the a cappella pieces ("My One And Only Love" and the superb "Both Sides Now"). This critic calls for a totally a cappella offering from these vocalists. Youthful exuberance and no fear make this group the jazz vocal group to beat.


Track Listing: You Don't Know What Love Is; My Romance; Time After Time; My One And Only Love; Crescent Moon In Spring; Cherokee; Both Sides Now; A New Dance; Interlude #4.

Personnel: Syncopation is: Christy Bluhm?Soprano Voice; Christine Fawson?Alto Voice, Trumpet; Jeremy Ragsdale?Tenor Voice; Tsunenori Abe?Bass Voice. Plus: Charles Lewis, Tiger Okoshi?Trumpet; Miles Li?Alto Saxophone; Ian Rapien?Soprano And Tenor Saxophones; Robynn M. Amy? Trombone; Matt Maley? Baritone Saaxophone; Mark Shilansky?Piano; Evan Gregor?Bass; Jordan Person?Percussion.

Title: A New Dance | Year Released: 2004


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