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Vocalist Cristina Morrison is also quite the lyricist as she demonstrates in spades on I Love. Original compositions like "Summer in New York" are beautifully carnal while the title track is a celebration of art and free spirits. Swing is the vitamin that nourishes this music, catalyzing a fine extended band to pitch-perfect performance. This is bright and contemporary jazz singing in the best sense of the word. Morrison's tone is sure and her mid-range uniform. She readily puts muscle behind the lyrics warranting it, and while never exactly dropping to a purr, still imbues the more sensual pieces with enough humidity to drench the area. The best example of this is the closing piece, Billie Holiday's staggering "Fine and Mellow."
Morrison and her band's arrangement of "Fine and Mellow" takes full advantage of an opening double bass and vocal chorus that immediately establishes the organic basis for the song. Bassist Marcus McLaurine begins with intention rather than swing, playing an intentional stilted blues line for the first two vocal choruses before pulling out the stops with the rest of the band, and throwing out some nose-bleed swing. Morrison coos and laments, frets and warns. She captures the inconsistent danger in love and lust. MClaurine's bass solo is in no way abstract: it is not a wink but a grab of the lapels. Guitarist Vinny Valentino adds some elegant low-down to the song, his solo one of decadent noblesse rather than roadhouse hubris and machismo. Nicely done, Cristina Morrison.
Track Listing: Summer In New York; Fifteen Day Affair; I Love; Stand Still; What A Difference A Day Makes; Red Mafia & Jass; East Of The Sun; Perfect Little Storms; Fine & Mellow.
Personnel: Cristina Morrison: vocals; Christian Hidrobo: alto saxophone; Walter Szymanski: trumpet; Steve Einerson: piano; Willard Dyson: drums; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Alex Alvear: electric bass; Vinny Valentino: guitar; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Sammy Torres: percussion; Alex Harding: baritone saxophone; Navijio Cevallos: requinto; Nanda Proano: vocals.
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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