Andréa Wood presents her second album as a leader with, Kaleidoscope. Devotees and newcomers alike should feel equally welcome when listening to Kaleidoscope. Wood has done an excellent job of compiling a twelve song program that is accessible in the deep history of jazz along with her well-crafted originals. The discerning aficionado will find Wood's vocal control and sense of rhythm deeply studied in the tradition, while the neophyte with easily relate to Wood's strong sense of groove and story lines of her originals that invite further exploration.
Kaleidoscope finds Wood displaying her well-honed composing and arranging skills, adorned with originals, sprinkled with a pop standouts and a dabble of classic gems. For the aficionado, Wood includes the classic "Nature Boy," that sheds new light on this well-known melody with many reminders about the art form's origins. For the neophyte, she serves up hip arrangements from Stevie Wonder "You and I," Carly Rae Jepsen "Call Me Maybe," and Bob Marley "Three Little Birds." Wood's originals are characterized by a straight eight groove oriented undercurrent that will appeal to both the devotees and newcomers. Wood has an unique ability to get all ears and feet engaged immediately with her clever originals. The pieces have smart lyrics and in-the-pocket grooves that slowly unfold to tell their unique stories. Wood's power comes from a diaphragm that emits a lush, full-bodied voice that still maintains full femininity and will engage the listener from start to finish.
The album opens with "Intuition" and Wood establish right from the start that the journey is going to be beautiful and creative. Wood's voice is clear and her timbre matches very well with the reed work of guest tenorist Donny McCaslin which comes across as angular yet buoyant, setting up a gorgeous canvas for the vocals, that lift her even higher. Andréa then turns the emotional tables for the heartbreaking "Arabesque of Love and Loss," a song inspired by her great uncle, who died shortly after she recorded it, just shy of his 102nd birthday. His story solidifies a running theme, balancing tragedy and the simple beauty of day-to-day living. This song segues into the first of the album's two interludes, both the fruits of her collaboration with brother Nick Wood, which weave samples of Andréa's singing into a hip-hop mix. Where the first diffuses the emotional power we have just experienced, the second is a more ambient and subterranean affair, and follows Andréa's nocturnal take on "Nature Boy." Made famous by Nat King Cole, this standard is given a younger sheen. Other takes on the tried and true include a nostalgic rendition of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," an urgent and heartfelt "You and I" (Stevie Wonder), and, in a stroke of genius, a daring recalibration of Carly Rae Jepsen's pop candy "Call Me Maybe."
Kaleidoscope reveals Wood's ability to be considered more than a brilliant vocalist, she is a complex composer rather than relegating her to the "woman singer-songwriter" category. Wood understands that it's about the MUSIC. Her compositions put into sharp relief unexpected chord progression and flowing melodies. Wood and her group are pushing the leading edge of jazz vocals. Technically she's brilliant and her ability create an emotional connection with her listeners is wonderful. The overall mood is wistful, the music is tuneful and the musical statement is conscience.
Intuition; The Arabesque of Love and Loss; Interlude I; You and I; Take a Chance;
Nature Boy; Interlude II; The Little Things; Kaleidoscope; Call Me Maybe; Parting
Ways; Three Little Birds; Doowop (Bonus Track).
Andréa Wood: lead and backing vocals (as well as all arrangements); Angelo Di
Loreto: piano, fender rhodes, wurlitzer, hammond B3; Olli Hirvonen: electric and
acoustic guitars; Ethan O’Reilly: acoustic and electric bass, vocals; Philippe
Lemm: drums, percussion, vocals; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone (1 & 6);
Nick Wood: production (3, 7, 13), vocals (13); Andrew Sheron: vocals (12),
electric bass (13), post-production.