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Dida Pelled: Plays And Sings

Dan Bilawsky By

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While no "one size fits all" prescription exists for molding and educating unique artists, some schools seem to have an exceptional track record. A large segment of the who's who of jazz greats from Detroit went through Cass Technical High School and more than a few Texas jazz titans received their education at Booker T. Washington High School For The Performing And Visual Arts. Another, less likely source—The Thelma Yellin High School Of The Arts in Tel Aviv, Israel—wasn't really on anybody's radar twenty years ago, but has become the ultimate hotbed for Israeli jazz activity. Bassist Omer Avital, the Cohen siblings (Anat Cohen, Avishai Cohen - Trumpet and Yuval Cohen), and pianists Omer Klein and Shimrit Shoshan all blossomed in this artistic incubator. Now, guitarist/vocalist Dida Pelled deserves to be added to the list.

Pelled has taken the prescribed course for Israeli jazz hopefuls, graduating from Thelma Yellin and honing her skills during her service in the Israeli Army, but she's no cookie-cutter performer. Pelled's warm voice possesses an emotive quality that's simultaneously soothing and intoxicating, and her guitar playing, which is built on her round sound, strong comping skills and soulful single note solo lines, places her in a category all her own.

On Plays And Sings, the young guitarist proves to be an old soul, capable of crafting timeless, yet modern, interpretations of classic fare. While the core trio of Pelled, bassist Tal Ronen and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, are responsible for delivering these charming and swinging performances, a pair of guest trumpeters occasionally join in the music-making. Roy Hargrove provides little asides and some strong solo work on "Our Love Is Here To Stay," revels in the grooving atmosphere of Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies," and follows the changes in mood on a Four Seasons favorite ("Can't Take My Eyes Off You"), while Fabio Morgera's pair of appearances feature his clean-toned trumpet work ("Three Coins In The Fountain") and muted obbligato ("More Than You Know").

While both men are welcome additions to the program, their appearances are a bonus, not a necessity. Pelled's guitar playing, which can be pleasantly dreamy ("More Than You Know"), quaint ("Stompin At The Savoy") and rhythmically engaging ("Fried Pies"), is of greater importance than any guest spots. When accompanying herself, she creates a mesh of warmth that perfectly matches her vocal style, but when she removes her voice from the equation, things can go in another direction. Her lines are often informed by a laid-back, Grant Green-influenced style of playing that touches on the blues in a soulful manner, but she also brings her background into play. Horace Silver's "Calcutta Cutie" might have originally contained allusions of India, but Pelled's angular lines and Ronen's exotic bass riff turn it into a musical caravan across the Negev desert.

Plays And Sings doesn't present a singer that also plays a little guitar or a guitarist who occasionally picks up a microphone. Dida Pelled sings and plays with equal skill, and her one of kind sound—steeped in tradition while residing deep in a dream—mark her as an artist deserving greater attention.

Track Listing: Our Love Is Here To Stay; After You've Gone; Fried Pies; There's A Lull In My Life; Can't Take My Eyes Off You; Ir Atzuva--It's a Sad City; Three Coins In The Fountain; More Than You Know; Stompin' At The Savoy; Calcutta Cutie; That's All.

Personnel: Dida Pelled: guitar, voice; Tal Ronen: bass; Gregory Hutchinson: drums; Roy Hargrove: trumpet (1, 3, 5); Fabio Morgera: trumpet (7-8).

Title: Plays And Sings | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Red Records

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