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"The White Tina Turner." Them is fightin' words. West coast vocalist and composer Kaye Bohler might be better described as Tina Turner covering Etta James at Muscle Shoals. Handle the Curves is a decade of original compositions that span from the Aretha Franklin-inflected "Diggin' on My Man" to the Van Morrison-ish title tune.
"Backbone" is all Memphis: Hi Records and Stax. Bohler's horn section could have had their tutelage under the Memphis Horns. Bohler stays close to the friendly confines of southern soul (read that: Memphis) soul. "Party Time" is jam rave-up featuring guitarist Pete Anderson in an extended solo. "Slayed" is all Al Green, tightly arranged and charted. Bohler's ear is a sure one and her compositions and arrangements are inventive and outside-the-box while still being easily linked to their respective influences.
The closest to cliché that Bohler approaches is on "It's The Blues" which sports a Muddy Waters stop-time riff with a well-worn plot arc. The disc closers, "Family is Found" and "Don't Take my Hope Away," more than make up for this in their imaginative themes and and hook-filled heads.
Kaye Bohler belongs to a new group of "Neo-Soul" acts that have emerged in the past number of years. Her approach is conservative without being stodgy. Her singing is fully inspired and engaged. Her songwriting is very effective, reflecting an expansive knowledge of her material and its history.
Track Listing: Diggin’ on My Man; The Way I do Business; Bubble Gum; Handle the Curves;
Backbone; Party Time; Slayed; It’s the Blues; Family is Found; Don’t
Take my Hope Away.
Personnel: Kaye Bohler: vocals; Pete Anderson: guitars and bass; Michael Murphy:
keyboards; Lee Thornburg: trombone and trumpet; Ron Dzibula: saxophone;
Jeff Sorenson: drums; John Paul: drums; Kelly Back: guitar.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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