Violinist and violist Chelsey Green's first full-length album as a leader Green Room is an ambitious but rather uneven project. Green whose playing style is a successful mélange of concert hall virtuosity, jazzy spontaneity and vibrant pop sensibilities, composed most of the music on the disc. And although the tunes have catchy melodies and memorable passages the heavy reliance on overproduced electrified backdrops often drowns out her lithe melodicism and takes away from the pure, simple beauty of her performance.
On the soulful and bittersweet "Road Trip" for instance her lilting, lyrical phrases pierce the cinematic refrains of the supporting band with wistful elegance and sophisticated flair. The ensemble's rather generic din, however, engulfs her artistic individuality too soon. Guitarist Steven Walker's brief, blistering solo brings a delightfully unexpected, rock and roll rawness to the otherwise over-polished song.
Green truly shines on the sparser tracks. On her own gorgeously dramatic sonata "Pizzicato, Pt. III," she creates shimmering, melancholic textures while intriguingly alternating plucked string tones with agile con arco lines. While on composer Richard Rodgers' standard "My Favorite Things" she tempers her nimble acrobatics with a refined and subtle maturity. On both pieces the rhythm section tastefully rumbles behind her.
The CD closes on a high note with "My Tribute (To God Be The Glory)" an intimate, spiritual, albeit tad saccharine, duet with pianist Daryl L.A. Hunt. Hunt's sweeping acoustic arpeggios enhance Green's sumptuous and soaring monologue, creating an uplifting and sublimely emotive ambience.
With this engaging, although a bit flawed, record Green demonstrates that she is an inventive composer and creative performer. She is adept at various genres from gospel to pop to jazz and western classical. Hopefully her future output will focus primarily on her talents as an instrumentalist and improviser without the need to rely on extraneous and ultimately distracting orchestrations.
Dr. Funk; Road Trip; Cheryl Ann; People Make The World Go ‘Round; Autumn Leaves; Party
Song; 1am; My Favorite Things; Pizzicato Part III; My Tribute (To God Be The Glory ).
Chelsey Green: violin, viola and vocals (5); Ignatius Perry Jr: keyboard, piano and rhodes;
Lorenzo Johnson: organ, auxiliary keyboard and sine pad; Kevin Powe Jr: electric bass; Brian
“Spyda” Wheatley: drums; Monique Brooks-Roberts: violin; Marvin Thompson: trombone; Will
Spence: alto saxophone; Theljon Allen: trumpet; Steven Walker: guitar; Matthew Chase: guitar;
Daryl L.A. Hunt: piano; Joshua Thomas: clavier.