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Audrey Martin: Living Room

Dan Bilawsky By

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Music and therapy aren't so different. In fact, many view music as therapy; it provides an outlet for expression for those who create, it helps those on the receiving end to find meaning in life, and it provides the means for people on both sides to look inside and beyond themselves. Countless individuals understand the nexus between these two worlds, as it's what draws them toward music in the first place, but vocalist Audrey Martin has actually lived it.

Martin's passion for the arts was evident early on. She studied theater, voice, and dance in college, but she ended up on a different path when she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and an MA in clinical psychology. Once done with schooling, Martin began her career as a marriage and family therapist, but the draw of the arts pulled her back in. When Martin turned forty, she realized that their was something of a hole in her life; she decided to fill it with music.

At that point, Martin made her way to the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California, connected with vocalist-teacher Stephanie Bruce, and got down to the business of making music. Subsequent years found her working hard to further her art. She studied with Laurie Antonioli in the advanced vocal program at Jazz Camp West, soaked up the wisdom of vocalists Madeline Eastman and Dena DeRose at the Stanford Summer Jazz Program, and, in 2010, completed the Jazzschool's vocal mentorship program with Maye Cavallaro. Now, More than fifteen years after Martin's jazz journey began, she arrives with her debut album, a collection of finely shaped and beautifully rendered performances.

Martin says a lot in subtle ways. Her delivery is gentle and emotive, measured and meaningful, and wholly connected to the spirit of each song. There's something naturally bright about her voice, yet small shadows and more complex hues come out at various times. Martin gravitates toward songs that let her ruminate and chew on her thoughts, but she doesn't dwell on any subject or idea for too long. Pianist Larry Dunlap—Martin's chief collaborator on this project—ably assists her, helping to mold each piece to fit her sensibilities. His arrangements—most notably a swinging "Wild Is The Wind" and a dainty, wistful-meets-lighthearted "April In Paris"—shed new light on old chestnuts. Together, Martin, Dunlap and the rest of the crew work their way through infrequently covered Leonard Cohen ("Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye") and Laura Nyro ("Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp"), a Joni Mitchell classic ("Blue"), a jazz warhorse or two ("My Favorite Things"), and a variety of other choice songs. Through it all, Martin manages to charm without fireworks or deliberate vocal offensives.

It took Audrey Martin an awfully long time to make the leap into jazz and recording, but it was worth the wait. Living Room is a promising debut, a helpful and welcome dose of therapy for the mind and heart.

Track Listing: Living Room; Wild Is The Wind; Summer Me, Winter Me; Meaning Of The Blues; Blue; Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye; Lazy Afternoon; I Never Meant To Hurt You; Calling You; The Touch Of Your Lips; My Favorite Things; I Like You, You're Nice; April In Paris; Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp.

Personnel: Audrey Martin: vocals; Larry Dunlap: piano, synthesizer; John Shifflett: bass (1-4, 6-11, 13, 14); Jason Lewis: drums (1-4, 6-8, 10, 11, 13, 14); Michaelle Goerlitz: percussion (1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14); Mary Fettig: tenor saxophone (2), soprano saxophone (11), clarinet (13), flute (14); Jeff Buenz: guitar (1, 6, 7, 9).

Title: Living Room | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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