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Rachel and Sara Caswell's Alive in the Singing Air is an interesting and vibrant example of how rich a loam of invention and innovation jazz music is. The genre and its repertoire has readily endured and thrived in a variety of formats, instrumentation, source music, every degree of freedom represented over its century of existence. On the pair's recording Alive in the Singing Air the invention and innovation reveal themselves in a manifold manner. First there are the sisters, musically inclined and trained to a high shine. Vocalist Rachel sports an informed and penetrating singing style while violinist Sara who takes things well beyond Stéphane Grappelli, Joe Venuti, while completely sidestepping Jean-Luc Ponty. Her command is complete.
A second part of the sisters' invention and innovation is the inclusion of iconoclastic pianist/composer Fred Hersch and lyrics from vocalist Norma Winstone. The title piece on the CD was a composite assembled by Hersch with Winstone's lyrics that could be called "modern traditional." The composition allows Rachel Caswell to show off her scat capabilities, surrounded by her considerable interpretive talent. Sara Caswell adds organicity with her warm fiddle playing whether as accompaniment or in solo spotlight. The sum total of these elements is an engaging collection of standards performed by most accomplished artists.
Personnel: Rachel Caswell: vocals; Sara Caswell; violin; Fred Hersch: piano; Jeremy Allen: bass; Bryson Kern: drums.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.