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Vocalist Susie Arioli's performances on All The Way are all about impact through intimacy. Arioli's laidback and understated vocals don't fall in line with the textbook definition of "powerful," but her ability to create highly emotive atmospheres in cloistered and relatively calm surroundings marks her as a powerful singer nonetheless.
For this, her seventh studio affair, Arioli and her right hand man, guitarist Jordan Officer, tackle standards in their own inimitable fashion. Mellow moods tend to dominate the proceedings, but this is no sleep-inducing set of music. Gripping vocal performances, along with succinct and stylish solos, help to give the music a sense of immediacy and importance.
Arioli opens the album with a take on "My Funny Valentine" that wears the fragile-but-focused feel of a Chet Baker performance. She moves on with a casual "Time On My Hands" and a snazzy "Here's To The Losers" that features some fine saxophone section work, but things take an unexpected turn when the title track arrives. "All The Way" is refashioned into a dreamy tune with a 12/8 feel that comes across more as '50s pop production than refashioned jazz standard. Arioli continues with a bossa-leaning "Here's That Rainy Day" and more direct "It's Always You," which proves to be one of the most striking numbers on the album.
While Arioli is the voice that powers this music, Officer proves to be the compass that guides it. He makes a connection with pianist Jeff Johnston on "My Funny Valentine," makes his soloing part of the comping fabric on "Time On My Hands" and brings a haunting quality to "When Your Lover Has Gone." Other standouts include vibraphonist Francois Stevenson and saxophonist Cameron Wallis. Both men prove to be team players and they join forces on "Looking For A Boy," which has a light spring in its step.
All The Way may actually be an odd album title for a record that thrives on languorous passion, if such a thing exists, but it actually makes sense. Arioli expresses the core sentiments of these songs with conviction, making it an album to remember.
Track Listing: My Funny Valentine; Time On My Hands; Here's To The Losers; All The Way; Here's That Rainy Day; It's Always You; Forgetful; There's A Lull In My Life; Come Rain Or Come Shine; When Your Lover Has Gone; Un Jour De Difference; Looking For A Boy; Time After Time.
Personnel: Susie Arioli: vocals; Jordan Officer: guitar; Jeff Johnston: piano (1, 2, 6, 8); Bill Gossage: bass (1-12); Michel Berthiaume: drums (1, 6, 7, 11, 12); Cameron Wallis: tenor saxophone (2, 8, 12, 13), baritone saxophone (3, 10); Al MacLean: tenor saxophone (3, 10); Averil Parker: tenor saxophone (3, 10); Ben Henriques: tenor saxophone (3, 10); Tony Albino: drums (2-5, 8, 10, 13); Francois Stevenson: vibraphone (4-6, 11, 12); Frederic Grenier: bass.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.