Croatian singer Lela Kaplowitz sings con brio and gleeful abandon. Eastern Europe has always been a hotbed terrain for big band music, with creativity exploding after the end of the Cold War. Kaplowitz and her husband/pianist/arranger Joe Kaplowitz emerge fully formed and swinging on With Every Breath. The pair employ the wares of the Croatian Radio-Television Jazz Orchestra (think an Eastern WDR) and spin out ten finely crafted big band pieces. Joe Kaplowitz proves more than capable as arranger for a large ensemble.
"Blues in Red Hook" bristles with swinging invention and a complex and sprawling solo by the pianist. "Keep on Going," the disc's first vocal raps a Latin vibe blistering voice and trumpet. Singer Kaplowitz's voice is resonant and robust, whether at full gale or sotto voce.
These are the two aspects of the recording that stand out: the arrangements and singing. The arrangements are tight and the composing laces intricate with complex heads and solos woven together in an almost tactile manner. Kaplowitz's singing is simply superb. She draws forth all of the blues and church from "Sisters," a languid stroll that allows for torch singing of the flame-throwing variety. Kaplowitz scats a bluestreak with trumpets and guitar in a New Orleans orgy of broken counterpoint. "Sand Story" begins in a hail of free jazz, before a vocal refrain defines a direction that flows into a Caribbean groove tempered with a steady rimshot. Breezy, but intense, the piece possesses a provocative symmetry reflecting that of the entire recording.
Blues in Red Hook; Keep On going; With Every Breath; I Love Myself;
Home; Please Stay; I Celebrate the Life; Sisters; Sand Story; Bolero.
Lela Kaplowitz: vocals; Joe Kaplowitz: piano, arranger; Croatian Radio-
Television Jazz Orchestra, Saša Nestorović: director.
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