Irene Atman and Daniela Schachter meet at the Intersection of Joel Frahm

C. Michael Bailey By

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Nowhere in jazz is the soil so rich as it is in the area of female vocals. Major label, independents, melting pots and old school, there are vocal releases appealing to any persnickety taste. Such a diverse marketplace is to the fortune of the listening public. This fortune is magnified when two dramatically different singers share a common denominator: in the cases of Irene Atman and Daniela Schachter that common denominator is New York tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm on the two recordings New York Rendezvous and Purple Butterfly. Frahm provides the common thread between these two otherwise very different singers whose recordings are as fine as they are disparate.

Irene Atman
New York Rendevous
Self Produced

Irene Atman claims influences by Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett, and Doris Day to Peggy Lee and Judy Garland to Petula Clarke. Her publicists neglect the most obvious influence: that of jazz elasticity, Betty Carter. Atman has perfected the malleable harmony line, her voice stretching and contracting effortlessly in all four dimensions, defying the quantum mechanics of sonics. Her vibrato is nuclear and perfectly controlled. Sporting no formal vocal training, Atman claims emulating horns as her practice and muse. Her vocal control is impressive, manifesting as slurs, trills, tremolo passages the whole bag of talents.

Her upbeat numbers, "Taking A Chance On Love" and "Time After Time" smack with space-time vocal aerobics, while her slow ballads ("Why Did I Choose You" and "I'm A Fool To Want You") are a master's class in perfect intonation and delivery. Atman's delivery is as affected by the pianism of Frank Kimbrough as her own mind's ear. Kimbrough serves as Atman's musical director on the recording, firmly establishing the harmonic direction of the recording date. He displays consummate taste and grace, complementing Atman perfectly.

And what of Joel Frahm? Frahm supplies his tasteful tenor saxophone in angular expressions, sharp on the edges as compared to the Atman's pliable voice, navigating the circuitous obbligato commentary of the melody. Frahm belongs to no school but his own. He readily applies his charm to whatever date he plays. It is always appropriate, considered and intelligent. His approach to Atman's singing is to play that hard edged foil to Atman's evolving timbre. New York Rendezvous is an exceptional addition to the vocal jazz contingency. Atman has much to say and she says it perfectly.

Daniela Schachter
Purple Butterfly
Self Produced

Daniela Schachter has released two recordings prior to Purple Butterfly: I Calori Del Mare (SplascH Records, 2007) and Quintet (Self Produced, 2001). Why the singer/pianist/composer did not detonate a musical explosion with these recordings is a mystery. No more singular voice and diamond-hard talent has emerged in jazz singing since the advents of Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson.

Schachter's vocal style, phrasing, diction and delivery are all informed by a light and fragrant cosmopolitan accent (ostensibly from her native Sicily) that sensuously bends her pronunciation in a most pleasing and satisfying way. It is much the same effect achieved by using a distinctive voice in narrating audio books. Singular speech deliver vastly improves narration (item: James Wood's narration of Stephen King's Secret Window, Secret Garden). Schachter's refined English (and Italian) achieves the same level of art and uniqueness. Her singing is irresistible.

"The Days of Wine and Roses" and "Autumn Leaves" reflect this vocal characteristic. The latter song is introduced by Schachter doubling her piano playing with the voice in a vocalese fashion. This launches her into the most cosmopolitan "Autumn Leaves" of recent memory. Alex Sipiagin's trumpet emerges from the first verse in a lengthly, well-considered solo that his followed with one by bassist Massimo Biolcati and then Schachter trading eights with drummer Quincy Davis. The singer proves to be as excellent a pianist as a vocalist. Her solos are constructed of steel gossamer, strong but delicate. The song concludes with Schachter's piano, voice, and Sipiagin's trumpet, in a complex coda.

Chick Corea's "500 Miles High" pits Schachter's voice against Frahm's tart tenor. Angular melody lines, voice, tenor, piano. Frahm quotes "Giant Steps" as an introduction to his solo. Schachter supports her soloists with the same delicate strength with which she solos. Her solo is complex and off-time, left hand giving the right hints; her voice lightly seasoned. Purple Butterfly is one of those recordings.

Tracks and Personnel

New York Rendevous

Tracks: Two For The Road; Taking A Chance On Love; Why Did I Choose You; Somos Novios; Time After Time; I'm A Fool To Want You; Charade; A Time For Love; Alfie; The Glory Of Love.

Personnel: Irene Atman: vocals; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone.

Purple Butterfly

Tracks: I Will Wait For You; The Days Of Wine And Roses; Autumn Leaves; The Peacocks; Promise; 500 Miles High; Purple Butterfly; E Se Domani; Beautiful Love; Lo Sugardo Della Luna.

Personnel: Daneila Schachter: vocals. piano; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Massimo Biolcati: acoustic bass; Quincy Davis: drums.


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