New York Voices
“It’s certainly not something that occurred to us when we were thinking about starting a band in 1988,” says Darmon Meader, musical director and tenor singer of New York Voices, about the seminal vocal ensemble’s 30th anniversary. “But the band has a momentum of its own—it has a life now.” Indeed, that momentum and life force has a firm grip on Meader and his bandmates, baritone Peter Eldridge and dual sopranos Lauren Kinhan and Kim Nazarian. Each has a separate and busy career of his or her own, working as a soloist and educator in the jazz vocal world, but each makes New York Voices their top priority. “We’re like a four-headed old married couple—we’re just a big family at this point,” Meader says. Life also bursts forth from every corner of Reminiscing in Tempo, the quartet’s anniversary release (although the 30-year mark was technically 2018) and one of the most ambitious, accomplished undertakings in their entire catalog. Working with revered producer and longtime friend Elliot Scheiner, NYV takes a deep dive into the jazz canon, surfacing with standards by Cole Porter and Al Jolson and gems from the catalogues Chick Corea, Fred Hersch, and Duke Ellington, along with an Al Jarreau-penned lyrical treatment of Dave Brubeck. As always, however, the band looks beyond the jazz repertoire as well, rendering two inventive originals, classics by the Beatles and Ivan Lins, and even a pair of settings for the Cuban classical composer Ignacio Cervantes. “It is quite a span to cover,” says Nazarian, brimming with enthusiasm. “Honoring the composers, as we do with Cervantes, and some of our jazz icons that we have not covered in the past, like Fred Hersch—I think that’s really special. There are still some firsts on this record for New York Voices, and after 31 years, I think that’s pretty amazing!” Adventurous though they may still be, Reminiscing in Tempo also finds the band having settled into a mature, confident phase. They are aware of their achievements, but don’t feel the need to harp on them. “I think we’re more comfortable in our own skin now,” Eldridge says. “I think initially we were out to impress. Flashy is fine, but when you’re in it for the long haul, you realize how empty that can be. The music’s supposed to feel good, too. So we’ve settled into a nice combination of the sweet and the splashy.” It’s a combination that has long characterized their thoughtfully programmed recordings and concert performances over the years with age as the refining element to their ever evolving story.