Lisa Thorson is a Boston-based vocalist and educator (she is a professor of voice at Berklee College of Music). She has release three recordings: From This Moment On (Brownstone, 1994), Resonance (GM Recordings, 1999) and Out to Sea (Self Produced, 2002). Even a dedicated teacher must spread her creative wings from time to time, and Thorson does so the present Lisa Thorson Quartet Live recorded at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston (a favorite haunt for fellow Boston vocalists Rebecca Parris and Louise Van Aarsen).
Thorson is a thoughtful and conservative programmer. For this performance she uses her regular piano trio, keeping things simple. Her song choices are refreshing as she combs the Songbook for lesser known gems and unknown classics. Thorson opens her set with wordless vocals on the Charlie Parker contrafact "Blues for Alice." Thorson and the band stake out their claim on jazz bona fides from the get to with this bebop tune. Pianist Tim Ray (who also arranged the piece) buffs a thoroughly contemporary shine on this older form. His introduction and soloing are taut and angular, all edges and creases. Thorson is crisp and precise delivering Parker's devilish head.
Thorson takes Martino and Brighetti's "Estate" for a languid ride that is properly accented by drummer George Schuller's undulating percussion. Ray submits a densely rhythmic solo that enhances Thorson's melodic tension. Thorson riffs the Portuguese flawlessly on "Ponteio." Her scat chops are elastic, recalling Betty Carter and Ella Fitzgerald. Bassist David Clark propels the piece from beneath while Ray provides just enough chaos to keep the arrangement interesting.
Lisa Thorson Quartet Live demonstrates that it is a good thing for a teacher to venture out and practice their chosen expression. Thorson does so in grand style with this rare and well-chosen recital.
Blues for Alice; There’s a Lull in My Life; Estate; Ponteio; Hearing Thing Too & Chorado; Mood Indigo; Everything I Love.
MuLisa Thorson: vocals; Tim Ray: piano; David Clark: bass; George Schuller: drums.
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