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Album Review

Caili O'Doherty: Quarantine Dream

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Caili O'Doherty: Quarantine Dream
The pandemic affected people in many different ways. For some, it raised new levels of awareness about health and prevention, but for others it also became a means of artistic discovery. This latter point is certainly the case for pianist Caili O'Doherty. In spite of being careful and taking precautions, she ultimately contracted COVID. While dealing with the illness, she found herself in a dreamlike state as she tried to get over it. During her ordeal, she used music as a coping mechanism, and Quarantine Dream is the result of that period.

O'Doherty was born in Portland, Oregon but relocated to the east coast in order to continue her education and launch her career. She received a Bachelor's degree in music from Berklee and a Master's in Music from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College. She has quickly become one of the rising stars on the jazz scene and has appeared on several noteworthy albums.

Quarantine Dream is O'Doherty's debut release for Posi-Tone Records. She is joined by Nicole Glover on saxophone, Tamir Shmerling on bass and Cory Cox on drums and percussion. The band forms a tight-knit unit, and this album gives each member plenty of opportunities to shine.

Just by looking at the title of the album and considering the context that inspired it, a potential listener might assume the music is going to be introspective, ethereal, and somewhat dreamlike. If that's the case, think again. While the album certainly has its introspective, dreamlike moments, O'Doherty provides a well-balanced mixture of jazz styles here.

The album kicks off with Oscar Peterson's "Blues For Big Scotia." Besides being a swinging blues number, this song also has significance for O'Doherty as a musician. Peterson was the person who sparked her interest in jazz, and this was the first song of his she learned during her early years as a pianist. The swing doesn't stop there, though. "WTF," which is inspired by an Art Taylor drum solo, is a cooker that features some excellent improvisation.

There are more introspective moments as well. The title track, for instance, was written during the height of O'Doherty's illness. She found herself in a dreamlike state and used the piano as a way to help her focus on something other than being sick. "Al" is also a composition where she used music as a way to process her feelings. Al was a close friend and fellow music lover who introduced her to quite a bit of music. After he passed away, she wrote this song for his family.

"Mr. O" is another song she wrote as a tribute. Her uncle, affectionately known as Mr. O, was a teacher who would play a variety of instruments in his classroom. After he was diagnosed with lymphoma she wrote this song for him. The song celebrates his love of teaching and music, but also presents, as she puts it, "a hopeful and triumphant theme."

This sense of hopefulness permeates Quarantine Dream. O'Doherty gets to showcase her talent both as a composer and as a musician, and throughout it all, O'Doherty concentrates on the power of music to make life a little better.

Track Listing

Blues For Big Scotia; Quarantine Dream; Reach Within; WTF; Al; You Know I Care; The Last Trip To The Moon; Salt & Vinegar; Mr. O; Runaway; Truth.

Personnel

Caili O'Doherty: piano; Nicole Glover: saxophone, tenor; Tamir Shmerling: bass; Cory Cox: drums.

Album information

Title: Quarantine Dream | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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