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Martina Fiserova & Brian Charette: Clearing Fields

James Nadal By

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This collaboration between vocalist Martina Fiserova and keyboardist Brian Charette is one that was twenty years in the making before finally bearing fruit on Clearing Fields.

Recorded in Prague, Czech Republic—where Fiserova makes her home and New Yorker Charette has established himself as a jazz educator and bandleader---this is one of those records that was meant to happen. Being the daughter of a Czech jazz musician, Fiserova is well-versed in the standards songbook, and dove into her role with confidence and enthusiasm. Charette, on the other hand, is a master accompanist who knows how to make a singer shine.

Besides being an accomplished pianist, Charette is quite the sensation on organ, where he has an admirable reputation as both sideman and leader. On this outing, he utilizes the instrument on several tracks including "I Got Rhythm," and "Like Someone In Love," his organ versatility adding uniqueness to this duo project as he lays down multilayered patterns to carry the songs perfectly. His pianistic ability is manifest in Billie Holiday's classic "Don't Explain" and on Abbey Lincoln's "And How I Hoped For Your Love," where he switches to a Fender Rhodes for a vintage sound.

In picking the songs, Fiserova went with a repertoire that may have been well covered but stays true to her background and knowledge of the music with which she grew up. She is an integral part of a vibrant Prague jazz scene, where jazz appreciation is still held to a high standard, and she bears her responsibility well. Her voice is graceful, and her phrasing and delivery are right on tempo.

Clearing Fields is, by Fiserova's own admission, sparse. She joined up with Charette as a duo for a couple of Prague gigs when they thought of going into the studio to record these standards exactly as they had been performing them, without bass or drums. To their credit it feels much like a live performance, with just the right amount of urgency applied to authenticate the endeavor.

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