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Oh Butterfly, the first release from British singer and songwriter Martyna, is a brief but impressive debut. Her voice is light and expressive while the songs, all self-penned, herald the arrival of a talented composerand one of these songs has the potential to become a bona fide standard.
It's important not to give the young singer all the credit for Oh Butterfly. Pianist John Bowman's arrangements work exceptionally well, enabling the musicians to showcase their own talents without intruding on the singer's performance, and all band members play sympathetically. But it's Martyna's writing and singing that are central to the recording's success.
Martyna moved into jazz from the acoustic music scene, where singer/songwriters are the norm rather than the exception. Such experience has clearly benefited the singerher writing already shows a lyrical and musical maturity that ensures that she avoids cliché, even though her subject matter is firmly within the tradition of jazz songs. "Falling for You" is a song of unrequited love, "all fireworks and explosions," introduced by Bowman's delicate piano and drummer Mike Wrigglesworth's brush work. "Oh Butterfly," by contrast, tells of love lost, or about to be lostit's a beautiful ballad featuring excellent accompaniment from Bowman.
The standard-in-waiting is "Hurricane," a song which blends a gorgeous melody with intriguing lyricsis the singer waiting for her lover to return, is she mourning his loss at sea, or is he a fantasy figure? Musically there is a Latin feel to the arrangementPhil Danter's guitar is particularly effective here. Martyna's vocals are at the front of the mix, precise and emotive. Her performance on "Hurricane" is reminiscent of the work of Stacey Kent, one of the finest singers in contemporary jazz.
Martyna may not yet have Kent's breadth of expression, but there is plenty here to suggest that experience and confidence will build on her talent and ability. Oh Butterfly is a fine debut and a clear indication of a bright future.
Track Listing: Falling for You; Oh Butterfly; Fire in the House; Hurricane.
Personnel: Martyna: vocals; John Bowman: piano; Loz Garratt: bass; Phil Danter: guitar; Mike Wrigglesworth: drums.
Year Released: 2010
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Vocal
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.