The Houston jazz mafia expands with vocalist Raquel Cepeda's I'm Confessin'. Cepeda joins the ranks of multi-instrumentalist Henry Darragh, singers Melissa Darragh, Tianna Hall, Jacqui Sutton and Danielle Reich, guitarist Paul Chester, trumpeter Dennis Dotson (who appears here), saxophonist Larry Slezak and (by extension), trumpeter Carol Morgan, Houston jazz mafiosi all. Cepeda adds eloquently to a merry band of musicians that harbor an amazing lack of overlap among their very individual styles.
Singing is the Venezuelan-born Cepada's avocation. By day she is a geological engineer working for the Texas oil industry. In addition to singing, she is also a visual artist, writer and dancerall not surprising considering her gracefully exotic looks and perfectly sculpted voice which is capable of handling multiple song sources, all bearing refraction through the Latin jazz prism.
Cepeda's approach is big and lush. Her baker's dozen of songs is supported by a large ensemble employing a string quartet when necessary. The overall personality of I'm Confessin' is elegance and intelligence. Elegance may be heard in the title tune and the foreign language pieces, "Besame Mucho" and "Chega de Saudade." Pianist Paul English provides plush arrangements well suited to Cepeda's studied voice.
But all is not smooth corners and good behavior. Cepeda and company add provocative angularity with a swing-stop "East of the Sun" and "I don't Know Enough About You." "What is This Thing Called Love" is beautifully ill-behaved, the ballad taken at double time featuring English just keeping things in control: exciting and inventive. The disc concludes with a brilliantly combined "Corcovado/Estate" performed with humid langor and sotto voce promises.
East of the Sun; Besame Mucho; Chega de Saudade; These Foolish Things;
Tonada de Luna Llena; Somos Novios; I Don't Know Enough About You;
Dream a Little Dream of Me; How Deep Is the Ocean; Me Flechaste el
Corazon; What Is This Thing Called Love; I'm Confessin' (That I Love
Raquel Cepeda: vocals; Bob Chadwick: flutes; David Caceres: alto and
tenor saxophones; Warren Steed: tenor and soprano saxophones; Dennis
Dotson: trumpet; Paul English: piano, trumpet, flugelhorn; Thomas
Hulten: trombone; Brennen Nase: guitar; Guil Fonseca: guitar; Jeffry
Eckels: bass; Dean Macomber: drums; Jorge Orta: percussion; Tony
Parana: percussion; James Metcalfe: percussion; Marcia Sterling:
violin; Oleg Sulyga: violin; Dan Strba: viola; Shino Hayashi: cello.