Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

357

Judith Berkson: Lu-Lu

By

Sign in to view read count
Judith Berkson: Lu-Lu The resonant voice of Judith Berkson has been ubiquitous in the Brooklyn creative music for years. The inquisitive concertgoer would be likely to catch her microtonal singing and delicate piano work in projects with trombonists Jacob Garchik or Ben Gerstein and drummer John McLellan, but more often in the context of her solo performances at New York's Barbès, where she can often be heard singing work of older composers like Robert Schumann and Arnold Schoenberg, as well as jazz standards and microtonal artsongs composed by Joe Maneri or Berkson herself.

Lu-Lu, her first solo CD, features Berkson accompanying her voice on the piano or Wurlitzer electric piano. The record is split mostly between moody interpretations of jazz standards and her original works. The title track moves with a deceptive urgency, borrowing time to pause one moment and rushing to arrive at some other point of interest the next moment, only to be overtaken by a wash of wordless vocal improvisation at the end. This leads into the lone classical work, Robert Schumann's "The Raven," one of the most touchingly evocative moments on the recording. Jazz standards bookend it: Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream" in front and Richard Rodgers' "Some Enchanted Evening" at the end, with Berkson inviting the listener to remember the record with a light wistfulness.

Berkson's abilities as a singer are profound, with incredible control of tone and a command of pitch that far outstretches traditional musicality. Years of studying the microtonal 72-note scale system developed by Joe Maneri have afforded her a nuanced vocabulary of inflection. Her stark keyboard accompaniment and the glacial pacing of her rubato underscore the deliberateness with which she sings.

A debut solo CD has an inherent quality of being an artifact of an intensely private process and this is evident in the clarity of concept and depth of delivery in Berkson's work. Fortunately, the somber mood and austere setting of Berkson's work on Lu-Lu has all the passionate sensitivity needed to bring all of these works to life, while still reminding the listener that it truly is a wonderful thing to express oneself honestly and completely.


Track Listing: Darn That Dream; Lu-Lu; The Raven; Maltz; Out Of Nowhere; Wait On; You Are Special; Penny Lasill; Some Enchanted Evening.

Personnel: Judith Berkson: voice, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Peacock Recordings | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Prog Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Prog Noir
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Shift
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 11, 2016
Read "Down the Line" CD/LP/Track Review Down the Line
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 10, 2016
Read "Fierce Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Fierce Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!