497

Alyssa Graham: Echo

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Alyssa Graham: Echo Jazz is a paradox that is both compromising and uncompromising. It is compromising as an assimilating art, one that absorbs all influences that touch it. It is uncompromising that jazz demands virtuosity and creativity. It is this paradox that allows the genre to contain both a Sarah Vaughan and Dianna Krall, and a Grant Green and John McLaughlin beneath its tent. It is jazz that welcomes the better angels of creation into its realm to manifest any number of delightful and inventive manners.

Jazz, by its very nature, is evolving in four dimensions. Norah Jones, for example, with a crack band and a Country and Western sensibility, has reformed the interface between jazz and popular music. Think of Jones as Josef Haydn, a musical trailblazer inventing a new way to look at an established genre, one further perfected by Mozart's inevitable invention. Norah Jones' Mozart is Alyssa Graham.

New York native Graham and guitarist/husband Douglas Graham recorded the singer's first release in their living room on a self-produced shoestring. The result was What Love Is (2005) which was selected for several Best of 2005 lists. Graham has since honed her musical approach to a fine edge, with Echo at once pure metal and perfect amalgam.

Echo boasts a Latin influence and indeed one exists. But there is none of the piquant tartness of a typical Latin outing. Instead, the collective efforts of Jeff Haynes' essential percussion, guitarists Graham and Romero Lubambo and the Hendrik Meurkens-influenced Gregoire Maret are distilled into dense tension, sounding as if it has been there all the time. This is familiar music and that is its magic. Paul Simon's "America" is rendered as a siren song buoyed by purring congas and round nylon stings. This same formula transforms Michel LeGrand's "Once upon a Summertime" in a similar manner; quietly and with great grace.

Pianist John Cowherd shares composing duties with both Bryan McCann ("Echo" and "Arkansas") and Douglas Graham ("Pictures of You" and "My Love") to anchor the disc. "Echo" is a sophisticated vignette, a cross between Burton Cummings and Bruce Hornsby. Graham's delicious intonation is perfectly balanced by Cowherd's Norah Jones-like octaves. "Arkansas" is a potent pastoral—smart and informed and mysterious. "My Love" powerfully recalls Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection (MCA , 1971) and Jackson Browne's The Pretender (Asylum, 1976), especially in Cowherd's fine piano solo and Graham's solid high, rich alto.

Into this mix is "Involved Again." Composed by Jack Reardon ("The Good Life"), "Involved Again" was written for Billie Holiday and was slated to be recorded by her, save for the singer's death in 1959. The song remained shelved until Reardon heard Alyssa Graham. The song would have been perfect next to "I'm A Fool to Want You" and "But Beautiful," from Holiday's Lady in Satin (Columbia, 1958). Graham captures perfectly the conflict of forgiven love, totally committed at a cost. She has spent her time wisely, perfecting her art and the art that came before her. Echo is a fine wine with a heady base and nose and an expansive finish. It is to be savored after many listenings.


Track Listing: America; Pictures of You; Echo; Arkansas; My Love; Butterflies; I Burn For You; Involved Again; Once Upon a Summer Time; Coming Home; Izaura.

Personnel: Alyssa Graham: vocals; Jon Cowherd: vocals, French horn, piano, organ; Douglas Graham: guitars; Romero Lubambo: guitar; Elizabeth Lim-Dutton, Laura Seaton: violin; Lawrence Dutton: viola; Sachi Patitucci: cello; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Doug Weiss: bass guitar; Obed Calvaire: drum; Jeff Haynes: percussion.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Vocal


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Gin Fizz Fandango" CD/LP/Track Review Gin Fizz Fandango
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "From Here to There" CD/LP/Track Review From Here to There
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "It's The Peace That Deafens" CD/LP/Track Review It's The Peace That Deafens
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Intermission" CD/LP/Track Review Intermission
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!