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Laila Biali: Out Of Dust

Dan Bilawsky By

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Laila Biali: Out Of Dust
There's no boxing Laila Biali in. A sharp-minded songwriter, respected pianist and celebrated vocalist who straddles jazz and pop with unusual ease and strength of vision, Biali is truly beyond category. Possessing clear eyes, a perceptive mien and a sharpshooters's gifts in regard to emotional aim, she often expresses more in a single breath than others do in an entire album. Capable of making you laugh and cry all at once, her delivery out of dust is divine.

Riding highs and lows, touching on the personal and political, and drawing meaning from all that supports and subverts, Biali creates a tapestry in song that speaks to pain, hope, humor, loss and a broad desire to find what's right in a world filled with wrongs. Opening on "Revival," a charged tale of modern life, politics and rousing responses in the age of Donald Trump, Biali is quick to speak her mind and drive through the turmoil. But she's just as likely to embrace the everyman in need, demonstrated during an absorbing trip through Gregory Porter's "Take Me To The Alley," or speak to rescue and rejoice, as on "Broken Vessels." Calling out calamities and questioning a false prophet just happens to be the starting point.

What ties together all of those pieces—and other standouts, like the moving "Wendy's Song" and the fun(ky) "Sugar"—is an ability to simply tell it like it is. Yes, the poetic writing is incredibly expressive, the arrangements are well-wrought works of art, the A-list cast does a fine job fleshing out the charts, and the production values, courtesy of Biali and drummer/co-producer Ben Wittman's unerring ears, add tremendous depth to the music. But in the end, it's really about an artist's ability to connect. Everything Laila Biali sings is believable and relatable, and when you surround that type of communicative purpose with sympathetic sounds—a supportive rhythmic base, Godwin Louis' gorgeous soprano filigree, a horn section made up of top-notch talent like trombonist/arranger Alan Ferber and multi-reedists John Ellis and Remy Le Boeuf, A-list backing vocals from the like of Lisa Fischer and Jo Lawry, among others—everything just gels. Exploring an emotional spectrum that covers an entire 360 degrees of experience, Out Of Dust is as real as they come.

Track Listing

Revival; The Monolith; Glass House; Wendy's Song; Sugar; Alpha Waves; Au Pays De Cocagne; Take Me To The Alley; The Baker's Daughter; Broken Vessels; Take The Day Off.

Personnel

Laila Biali: piano.

Rick Brown: electric bass (1, 3, 5, 9, 10); George Koller: acoustic bass (2, 4, 6-8); Larnell Lewis: drums (3, 5, 9); Ben Wittman: drums (1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10), percussion; Glenn Patscha: organ (1, 2, 4, 5, 8-10), keyboards (1, 2); John Ellis: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 8), bass clarinet (1, 5, 9); Godwin Louis: soprano saxophone (2, 3, 9, 10); Mike "Maz" Maher: trumpet (1, 5, 9); vocals (6); Remy Le Boeuf: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet (1, 5, 9); Alan Ferber: trombone (1, 5, 9); Lisa Fischer: vocals (1, 4, 5); Adam Thomas: vocals (9); Drew Jurecka: violin (2-4, 6, 7); Rebekah Wolkstein: violin (2-4, 6, 7); Shannon Knights: viola (2-4, 6, 7); Lydia Munchonsky: cello (2-4, 6, 7); Jo Lawry: vocals (1, 2, 5, 8, 10); Michelle Wills: vocals (1, 2, 5, 8, 10); Dennis Collins: vocals (1, 2, 5, 8, 10).

Album information

Title: Out Of Dust | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: ACT Music

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