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Empathy Project: Influences

Don Phipps By

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Influences, a breezy affair from Empathy Project, is like viewing fluffy white clouds while seated at a street side café on the South Bank of Paris or the beach in Rio. The music swirls and bounces gently in boppish fashion -a happy affair with an emphasis on romance.

Featuring soft but assured vocals from Alexandra Kurkova and Dmitry Vasiliev, the songs cover bossa nova, bop, classical, and swing (and Swingle Singers), among other musical styles. Vasiliev composed seven of the nine numbers, and all of the songs suggest a bright spring day of fashions—pinks, mauve, reds, yellows and ochre.

Victor Arkharov's sax work gives "One Word" and "I Give a Flower to You" a fresh perspective. The ballad "Evening Light" has starry-eyed vocals backed by Grigory Bazhanov's sweet accompaniment. Bazhanov's soft touch on the piano also shines on "Half a Life." Klimenok's acoustic guitar work on "I Give a Flower to You" is light and airy, perfect for the composition. Drummer Denis Kaverznev provides lively emphases and his own shades of sounds. The cover of Claudio Monteverdi's "Sì Dolce è'l Tormento" is strikingly unusual, giving a jazz rhythm to what might be considered an opening to an operetta.

Yes, Influences is undeniably retro. But any misgivings of stepping back into the past are completely dismissed by the charm of the music. Even though it explores diverse genres, the musical arc holds together. After all, there's always room for romance and sunshine.

Track Listing: Valse; Sunny Day; One Word; Evening Light; Half a Life; Sì Dolce è’l Tormento; Vocalise; Silence; I Give a Flower to You.

Personnel: Alexandra Kurkova: vocal; Dmitry Vasiliev: vocal, double bass, bass guitar; Victor Arkharov: bass clarinet, soprano saxophone (1, 3, 8, 9); Semen Klimenok: guitars (1, 3, 8, 9); Grigory Bazhanov: piano, keys Denis Kaverznev: drums.

Title: Influences | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Fancy Music

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