145

Janis Siegel: A Thousand Beautiful Things

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Janis Siegel: A Thousand Beautiful Things Janis Siegel is amazing. One of the principal voices behind The Manhattan Transfer from the start, she's also an accomplished solo artist. And the fascinating thing is, you never really know what she's going to do next. Enter A Thousand Beautiful Things. The title may be misleading, because each note counts from the first track to the last, adding up to tens of thousands of beautiful things on this album.

A nine-time Grammy winner and seventeen-time Grammy nominee, Siegel has been a fixture with The Manhattan Transfer for 33 years. She has led some of the group's most popular songs, including "Twilight Tone, "The Boy from N.Y.C., "Ray's Rockhouse and "Birdland. In addition, she has nine solo albums to her credit, including I Wish You Love, Friday Night Special and Sketches of Broadway. Throughout, Siegel has shown a fondness for standards, but the new album takes a different direction. "As much as I love singing standards, it's not the only thing I love doing, and eventually I came to the idea of just doing some songs that I love—songs that I think are timely and relevant—in a Latin rhythmic context, she says.

Among these is the stunning rendition of "I Can't Help It, penned by Susaye Cotton Green and Stevie Wonder and recorded on Michael Jackson's Off the Wall. The rhythm set by Jackson's version lends itself to a jazz interpretation. It's definitely a beautiful thing that Siegel took it on, complemented by a sterling trumpet solo from Brian Lynch. At 6:01, it's the third longest track on the album, offering plenty of room for the ensemble to go exploring.

The title song, a cover of Annie Lennox's hit, allows even more improvisation. Marlon Saunders, a background singer on most of the tracks, adds an improvised recitation, naming a number of beautiful things as the song winds down. Drummer Steve Hass, a regular with The Manhattan Transfer, on whose Traveler album Siegel appears, layers some sensational support throughout, but particularly during Saunders' recitation. Edmar Castaneda plays Colombian harp on several tracks, including a duet with Siegel on "A Wish. On the delightful "The Suitcase Song, Siegel and her sidemen are backed by Las Siegelitas, a vocal quartet that could easily be called "The Four Sylvias. Bassist John Benetiz lays down a slick groove on the cover of Paul Simon's "Love, punctuated by pianist Edsel Gomez and Hass.

The Latin flavoring, superb musicianship and, of course, Siegel's vocal dexterity and versatility make this record a keeper. Those who've only heard Sigel within the scope of The Manhattan Transfer are in for a jaw-dropping surprise—not that those already familiar with her solo efforts won't experience the same effect. She's clearly on top of her game. And the entire album has a sense of fun: Siegel and her supporting cast don't hold back their own enjoyment of putting this collection together. That clearly is one of A Thousand Beautiful Things.


Track Listing: Hidden Place; The Suitcase Song; I Can

Personnel: Janis Siegel: vocals, background vocals; Edsel Gomez: piano, background vocals; Edmar Casteneda: Columbian harp; John Benitez: bass, background vocals; Steve Hass: drums, background vocals; Luisito Quintero: drums, percussion, background vocals; Brian Lynch: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marlon Saunders, Silvia Ramirez, Silvia Rodriques, Silvia Maria Romero, Silvia Rosario: background vocals.

Title: A Thousand Beautiful Things | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Telarc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Radioactive Landscapes EP" CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 17, 2016
Read "From the Heart" CD/LP/Track Review From the Heart
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Hush Point III" CD/LP/Track Review Hush Point III
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Until Your Throat Is Dry" CD/LP/Track Review Until Your Throat Is Dry
by John Sharpe
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "La Sombra" CD/LP/Track Review La Sombra
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 10, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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