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New York Voices: New York Voices Live with The WDR Big Band Cologne

Edward Blanco By

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The Grammy Award-winning vocal group New York Voices celebrates its 25th anniversary presenting their first full live album with New York Voices Live offering a collection of past favorites and brand new arrangements from the principal arranger-conductor renowned pianist/arranger Michael Abene. A live recording from a May 2008 concert at the Kolner Philharmonie in Cologne, Germany with the world famous WDR Big Band Cologne, this long-awaited release opens the group's 2013 celebratory year with a bang. New to their repertoire are a jazz rendition of the Annie Lennox pop tune "Cold," Darmon Meader's cappella vocal arrangement of the classic Lerner & Lowe standard "Almost Like Being In Love," and a swinging take of the Broadway staple "Love Me or Leave Me."

The Paul Simon piece "Baby Driver" begins the celebration featuring lead vocals by Peter Eldridge, WDR guitarist Paul Shigihara and alto saxophonist Karolina Strassmayer weighing in on instrumental solos. The jazz standard "Stolen Moments" provides, no pun intended, some of the best moments of the disc showcasing group vocalist Lauren Kinhan dicing the lyrics with appreciable scats. Trombonist Ludwig Nub and alto saxophonist Heiner Wiberny provide the musical backdrop along with the rest of the band.

The other female vocalist of the group, Kim Nazarian takes the lead on the swinging "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" performed in an upbeat lively tempo, this one also showcases the power of the band in another highlight of the album. All four members of the vocal group sing in harmony on the terrific introduction of the Eldridge/Kinhan original "The World Keeps You Waiting" with Kinhan later leading accompanied by tenor saxophonist Paul Heller as the brass kicks in for one exciting number complete with audience approval throughout.

Perhaps the lightest, even somber-like tune of the album goes to Simon's "I Do It For Your Love" where the singing and the music is softer than the balance of the session nevertheless, its tender nature is similarly appealing. The celebration comes to a close on two of the hardest-swinging pieces of the set defining the music. "Darn That Dream" gets a fresh new treatment with the scatting voices of the group fronting the instrumental voices of the WDR trumpets and bass clarinets doing the honors. New York Voices ends the party with the Chick Corea—influenced showpiece "The Sultan Fainted," a percussive number possessing a slightly Latin flavor powering the group for a twelve and a half minute romp. Pianist Frank Chastenier, drummer Hans Dekker and percussionist Pernell Saturnino provide the exciting solo moments on this one.

Though a long time in coming, the wait is well worth it. The big band arrangements, raw energy and excitement of New York Voices Live propels this elite group to another level. Of course that's not surprising when you combine four superb and talented vocalists with a world-class ensemble, the result should be, and is in this case, a sizzling vocal and instrumental experience.

Track Listing: Baby Driver; Stolen Moments; Love Me or Leave Me; In the Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Cold; The World Keeps You Waiting; Do It For Your Love; Darn That Dream; Almost Like Being In Love; The Sultan Fainted.

Personnel: Kim Nazarian: voice; Peter Eldridge: voice; Lauren Kinhan: voice; Darmon Meader: voice; Heiner Wilberny: alto saxophone; Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone; Olivier Peters: tenor saxophone; Paul Heller: tenor saxophone; Jens Neufang: baritone saxophone; Andy Haderer: trumpet; Rob Bruynen: trumpet; Klaus Osterioh: trumpet; Wim Both: trumpet; John Marshall: trumpet; Ludwig Nuss: trombone; Dave Horler: trombone; Bernt Laukamp: trombone; Mattis Cederberg: bass-trombone; Frank Castenier: piano; Paul Shigihara: guitar; John Goldsby: bass; Hans Dekker: drums.

Title: Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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