1

Donna Khalifé: Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Donna Khalifé: Hope is the Thing with Feathers
Lebanese vocalist and bassist Donna Khalifé is a consummate jazz artist. In addition to mastering singing in all its aspects, including scatting, she is a distinctive composer and an accomplished instrumentalist. On her second release Hope Is the Thing with Feathers she leads her quintet on intriguing interpretations of standards and her own originals.

This stimulating album opens with a unique take on Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things." After Khalifé's chant-like vocals, which the group's expectant refrains buoy, the song takes on an electric and funky groove. As Khalifé inventively scats, the undulating instrumental vamps contribute a relaxed intimacy. With urgency and swagger, Lebanese guitarist Raffi Mandalian launches into a blistering solo which brims with rock and roll sensibilities.

Mandalian and Khalifé engage in a delightful duet on the title track which progresses to feature French saxophonist Phillipe Lopes de Sa's acerbic muscular lines and passionate wail. Throughout the diverse tempo changes, Lebanese drummer Fouad Afra propels the music with his passionate and lithe polyrhythms. Afra is perfectly suited to the task as he is comfortable in a variety of settings and genres. At the core of the piece Armenian expat keyboardist Arthur Satyan's elegant and earthy chords simmer.

An award-winning pianist, and the head of the Lebanese National Conservatory's jazz program, Satyan improvises with inventiveness throughout the record. For instance, on the haunting "Koutalon Kharsa,'" as Khalifé's prayer-like articulation of the Arabic lyrics soars with breathtaking agility, Satyan peppers the spiritual ambience with sparse chiming notes which shimmer in the enveloping silence. Khalifé enhances the captivating and otherworldly atmosphere by overdubbing herself taking the tune from eerie and serene to mystical and bright.

Khalifé explores the range of her creativity from the soft lullaby-like opening of "Ta'iran" to her mesmerizing vocal acrobatics on "Sultan." She matches these with her understated poetry on the stand up bass. Perhaps the most intriguing demonstrations of her versatility are the two versions of the Swedish folk song "Uti var Hage"; the first is almost like a Baroque aria with the melancholic sounds of Swedish Vindla String Quartet providing lush support; the second is more soulful, and features the regular quintet; Khalifé's voice mirrors Lopes de Sa's serpentine phrases before the latter launches into an exciting spontaneous embellishment of the pastoral melody.

WIth her sophomore effort, leading a new ensemble, Khalifé has topped her already brilliant debut Heavy Dance (2017, Self Produced). Both her writing and performance demonstrate increased maturity and a singularly personal style. Despite the brevity of her recording career, Khalifé is already a sui generis musician destined for widespread success both at home and abroad.

Track Listing

My Favorite Things; Vocalism; Koutalon Kharsa'; Hope Is the Thing with Feathers; Uti Var Hage (feat. Vindla String Quartet); Romane; Ta'iran; Sultan; Uti Var Hage.

Personnel

Donna Khalifé : voice, double bass; Philippe Lopes de Sa: saxophones; Raffi Mandalian: guitar; Arthur Satyan: Rhodes piano; Fouad Afra: drums; Vindla String Quartet.

Album information

Title: Hope is the Thing with Feathers | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Secret Suite
Nick Lombardelli
The One And The Other
Lara Solnicki
Flatbosc & Cautery
Frank Gratkowski, Achim Kaufmann, Wilbert de...
Shuffling Ivories
Roberto Magris
Kinetic
Steven Feifke Big Band
Sogni D’oro
Berlin Mallet Group
Light as a Word
Remy Le Boeuf
Love is the Key
Sue Maskaleris

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.