Lionel Messi has left Barcelona but excellence hasn't. Barcelona-based Ksenia Parkhatskaya
is a performer whose skills are as varied in the creative arts as Senor Messi's are on the football pitch. The breadth of her talent is unique making it difficult to excel in one thing, but blessed as she is, she excels in all she attempts. In this case it's with the help of her husband and a group of international players.
Parkhatskaya's successful debut as a singer-songwriter is Colours.
Of the 9 songs on the recording she and her husband wrote 8. "Close your Eyes," the only song not written by them, was written by the "Queen of Tin Pan Alley." Irving Berlin gave Bernice Petkere the moniker for penning that song and some other songs favored by jazz musicians like "Lullaby of the Leaves."
Parkhatskaya has gained notice as a dancer with the Paris Opera Orchestra and Christian McBride
. She's also been the modeling face of Italy's largest phone company. The video made for "Fear" has been nominated in several categories at the International Fashion Film Awards. It's a dark song with a positive ending. When talking about her songwriting with her husband and bassist she had this to say..."Some songs paint a deep blue haunting loneliness, red inner turmoil or grey melancholy. Others paint a golden dawn full of hope and youth, a purple milky way where all things intertwine and connect, a green endless ocean of the eyes of a loved one. Play, musicianship, storytelling and individuality are the core ideas of my work."
Having grown up in Russia, English is not her first language but she shows facility in Shakespeare's language; her lyrics do have a poetic quality, maybe derived from her Irish husband, co-producer and co-composer David Duffy
. The rich, sometimes sombre vocals, tell stories that are at times both personal and cinematic.
Barcelona's almost legendary (legends per some people's point of view can only be dead) Joan Chamorro
, has influenced this international band whose roots spread from Russia, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil and Cuba. Barcelona has become a jazz hotbed. Chamorro's impact on this youthful gathering includes pianist Marc Martin
who played in the Saint Andreu Big Band founded by Chamorro. Martin intros, solos and dialogues with Parkhatskaya and Duffy in a trio format version of "How Long," a noirish romance from its opening line..."Friday night in a busy bar."
Cuban trumpeter Carlos Sarduy
is currently on tour with Richard Bona
. His soulful sound fills a smoke- filled room version of "Close Your Eyes." Frank Sinatra
pal Alec Wilder said the song had a self-consciousness whose fictional narrator comes off as a "shopgirl Shakespeare." But Wilder also said it was well-written music. Don't worry Bernice Petkere, the jazz world in the persons of Arthur Prysock
, Benny Goodman
, Stacey Kent
, Kurt Elling
, and now Parkhatskaya has embraced your song.
So far Shakespeare has come up twice before. Here's a third. The lyrics of "Behind My Eyes," deal with a psychology similar to the Bard's metaphysical treatment of isolation in "Hamlet." The award-winning 2020 video of "Rose and Blue" was released in collaboration with German animators Julie Boehm & Marc Zimmerman. Dedicated to Parkhatskaya's mother, it tells its story in stunning color. Sarduy's trumpet and Parthatskaya's voice blend with heartfelt lyricism.
Duffy's bass intro sets the tone for the dreamscape melody of "Standing in the Distance." Parkhatskaya's vocal is both a haunted and haunting echo of Katie Melua. Besides the bass, Duffy's synthesizer and Martin's piano are the only accompaniment, a hard-to-forget minimalist treatment. The final track is the light-hearted "Green Eyes." A sunny-side-of-the-street vocal, Gabriel Amargant's saxophone and Martin's organ add joy to the palette of colours.
The artwork on the album cover is credited to Evgenia Parhatskaja. Without doubt talent runs in the family. Evgenia is an artistic sister. All the musicians contribute to an outstanding singer-songwriter debut. Next time you're in Barcelona, find a spot to listen to world-class jazz. It is a city filled with music and colours.
For Saturdays; In My Room; How Long; Close Your Eyes; Fear; Behind My Eyes; Standing in the Distance; Rose and Blue;