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Stevie Holland: More Than Words Can Say

Jim Santella By

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Words are not sufficient to describe the bright spirit that comes from Stevie Holland's latest release. You've got to hear her to understand the many qualities that make up this winning performance. She combines a highly accurate vocal presentation with deeply felt expression and comes up with the best of both worlds. While communication is her forte, Holland also ensures that we're treated to a musical performance of the highest caliber.

The album begins with "Only You, which features saxophonist Ole Mathisen on soprano and alto. Holland's a soulful love ballad opens the session with glad feelings all around. Like a faithful celebration in church on a Sunday morning, her interpretation affects the audience deeply. "Yesterdays provides a leisurely samba romp that places Holland and her piano trio in a hardy groove. Strings give "Lovingly a romantic texture. Most of the program, taking its cue from the title track, emphasizes the art of romance.

Jimmy McHugh's "'Murder,' He Says features guitarist Sean Harkness in a swinging affair that puts on glad feelings all around. "Day by Day features an exotic interpretation by the piano trio. Holland could convince a die-hard pessimist that tomorrow holds sweet fortune for all of us.

Her interpretation of "Desafinado comes with a special surprise. As you may recall, this Jobim song compares love to music, and sometimes it sounds slightly out of tune. As she sings "We used to harmonize, two souls in perfect time, everything clicks musically for a lovely, fitting texture. A few moments later, as she sings "And so, what good's a heart that's slightly out of tune, we're treated to the creative gestures of a true professional—Holland sings the phrase slightly out of tune. Stevie Holland's song stylist combination of endearing passion and straightforward musicianship makes More Than Words Can Say a true winner.

Track Listing: Only You; Yesterdays; If Ever I Would Leave You; This Is It; Lovingly; By Myself; Firefly; Day by Day;

Personnel: Stevie Holland: vocals; Martin Bejerano, Kris Davis: piano; Hans Glawischnig, Rob Jost: bass; Einar Scheving, Jeff Davis: drums; Sean Harkness: guitar; Ole Mathisen: saxophones; Lauren Riley: cello; Gary William Friedman: conductor, arranger; strings contracted by Jesse Levy.

Title: More Than Words Can Say | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: 150 Music

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