246

Armonica: From Me to You

Roger Crane By

Sign in to view read count
Armonica: From Me to You The word “armonica” has two meanings, both relating to music. An armonica is a glass harmonica (which, interestingly, was invented by Benjamin Franklin) and it is also the Italian word for “harmony.” So Armonica, the Portland-based singer, has the perfect name to accompany her marvelous singing. By the way, this is not a name that she chose to enhance her musical career. Her parents so named her.

Armonica opens her stellar debut CD with a bouncy reading of Peggy Lee’s noted song, “I Love Being Here With You,” and she sounds like she means it, singing with much naturalness and joy. Some of the best cuts on this debut album are just Armonica’s lovely rich alto and Dan Balmer’s guitar. One example is the delightful reading of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You,” and one of the best versions of the newest of standards, “Estate.” But the centerpiece, at least to my ears, is the five-minute “After Hours,” a noirish ballad of love and obsession, by Roz Gordon. Armonica goes beyond the notes and uses her musical understanding to bring an after-hours feline grace and relaxed ambience to this lovely but lonely song. She brings impassioned identification to Gordon’s lyrics, making it poetry, all aided and abetted by Balmer’s sublime guitar. This cut alone is worth the cost of the CD. However, Armonica shows that she can also swing on a wonderfully arranged “Lullaby of the Leaves.” Each selection is a gem but mention should be made of Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone.” The song and Armonica’s interpretation are both works of pristine beauty.

Armonica is surrounded by gifted fellow musicians, many from the Portland area, including the previously mentioned Dan Balmer, who is arguably the premier guitarist in the Northwest jazz scene. Bassist Ben Wolfe is known nationally for his work with Wynton Marsalis and Diana Krall, just to cite two well-known collaborations. Pianist Tony Pacini has played with reedman Bud Shank and vocalist, Rebecca Kilgore amongst many others. Together, these consummate artists provide wonderful support for Armonica’s debut.

Like the very best of jazz singers, Armonica does not try to be a horn, but rather phrases and swings with the suppleness of a horn, while giving attention to the text and telling the story. Her technique, luminous and lovely voice, and her interpretive depth should give her great staying power. I look forward to many more CDs from Armonica, a young artist of considerable stature.

Visit Armonica on the web.


Track Listing: 1) I Love Being Here With You 2) Shall We Dance 3) The Nearness of You 4) Estate 5) I'll Take Romance 6) Lotus Blossoms 7) After Hours 8) Desafinado 9) Emily 10) Lullaby of the Leaves 11) Bird Alone

Personnel: Armonica - vocals, Dan Balmer - guitar, Ben Wolfe - bass, Tony Pacini - piano, Dave Evans - saxophone, Ron Steen - drums, Dave Captein - bassist on

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Lonewolf Records | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Xabregas 10" CD/LP/Track Review Xabregas 10
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Journey To The Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Swong" CD/LP/Track Review Swong
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "All Terrain Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review All Terrain Guitar
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "Earth Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Earth Tones
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 5, 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!