Recently one of the sports channels delivered a segment about a deep sea diver who plummets into and ascends from ocean depths unaided by air tanks. He does it all on his own breath. In that documentary, the diver speaks about the peak life experience he encounters with each daredevil dive. The metaphors of adventure, heightened experience and certainly depth and breath, of courseare quite apropos applied to Madeline Eastman as A Quiet Thing is a terrific recording and an aural experience.
Long considered one of the finest vocal stylists on the jazz scene, A Quiet Thing is Eastman's second ballads-only duo recording. Here, the California-based songstress pairs with pianist Randy Porter over 14 gorgeously performed selections. And, while it's difficult enough for any one artist alone to achieve excellence of this level in a performance, when two artists individually reach that summit and top that by interacting at that heightened level, the result is simply other-worldly.
Eastman's is a voice of significant character and emotional substance; it's two hands held out beckoning us to join her on her escapade into lyric, dynamic and phrasing adventure. Hers is an instrumentalist's phrasing, a savvy player's sense of volume, lyric and dynamic. More Carmen McRae than any other, Eastman handles the perfectly-selected tunes gorgeously. Even those selections which are most familiar commercially ("Alfie" "Pick Yourself Up," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most") are executed at bar-raising emotional level. With all due respect to other jazz vocalists who dwell in standard GAS and bossa fare, Eastman's work with more sophisticated material ("I Remember" "Sea Journey," "I Think It's Going to Rain Today") puts A Quiet Thing almost beyond reach.
Pianist Randy Porter is equally superb here. He is the perfect complement and compliment to Eastman's unique interpretations. His breadth of touch and dynamics mirror and enhance Eastman and never detract or distract. His harmonic range is pure Impressionistic palette. His is a consistently intelligent, cooperative approach in every manner. Porter's accompaniment could be played alone and it would shine as a Equatorial sun.
A Quiet Thing further validates Madeline Eastman's stature as one of jazz's most talented song-stylists.
Alfie; Pick Yourself Up; Sea Journey; Spring Can Really Hang You Up; A Face Like Yours; I Remember; The Band And The Beautiful; All Of Us In It; I Never Meant To Hurt You; You Are All I Need; It's A Quiet Thing; I Think It's Going To Rain Today; With One More Look At You.
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