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Jenny Davis: Rearranged

C. Michael Bailey By

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The first listen is simply heating the snifter to introduce the complex and commanding music made as essence to the listener. The second and subsequent listenings consumes the musical liquor of the talent and vision of vocalist and composer Jenny Davis, who reveals a very sophisticated creative method existing at the triple point of her singing, composing and activism. Davis's previous recordings It Amazes Me (Self Produced, 2006) and Inside You (Self Produced, 2010) were well received, setting Davis up to the challenge of expanding on them. Davis' fourth recording as a leader, Rearranged, resulted from her Yeoman Warders Project launched last year. To Davis, Yeoman Warders is a metaphor for raising children in a dangerous world—where parents behave as the Queen's guard (ergo, Yeoman Warders)—determined, loyal and sometimes reticent in the face of ignorance, fear, or hatred. The metaphor reveals the duty of a parent standing watch allowing the children to thrive in freedom—safe in a sanctuary of parental protection, without concern or judgment. In a word...tolerance. This is grownup music for grownups.

Davis uses her jazz vocals medium to convey her feelings and support for this project. It is both a labor of love and a dedicated vocation toward something bigger and better, using music as the vehicle. Within the dozen selections contained herein lies a triptych of songs addressing the heart of her project: "Come with Me" is Davis inviting the listener into a Utopian world of acceptance where old beliefs are questioned and truth and beauty are revealed and celebrated.

"Yeoman Warders" is something else altogether, a micro saxophone quartet suite scored in three brief movements: a waltz prelude, "Utopia Changes," addressing a time of innocence between mother and child, where belief is strong and safety assured, followed by smoky minor-key blues, ostensibly representing truth revealing, and "Mother Bear," an expression of anger toward a dangerous culture. The music is emotive, full of pathos and vigor. "Yeoman Warders" is the disc's fulcrum, centering and balancing the collection.

Finally, the title piece, "Rearranged," is given two performances: a studio version performed by Davis's core trio, pianist Jovino Santos Neto, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Jeff Busch, and a string quartet version performed live, closing the disc. Lyrically, the song is an inward prayer, an appeal to self awareness and one's personal responsibility, and for the awful grace necessary to love one's enemies. Davis' music is her message.

But there is more to Rearranged than this core element. Davis' overall product is seasoned with wispy Latin vibes ("Aceptar" and "Gemini Tango") and jaunty urban chansons ("And What If I Don't" and "Invitation"). The supporting Jovino Santos Neto trio has an expansive genre palette capable of addressing all of Davis' disparate creative aims. Chuck Deardorf shows off mad elastic electric bass skills on Herbie Hancock's "And What If I Don't" before switching to double bass and soloing in golden convention on "Come With Me." Heather Bentley and David Lang bring the old world charm to "Gemini Tango" with their respective violin and accordion. Mark Taylor makes "Wise Up" pop with his alto saxophone, while tenor saxophonist Kurt Festinger blows free on "Aceptar."

Track Listing

Aceptar; And What If I Don’t; Come With Me; Rearranged; Yeoman Wanders; Invitation; Saying Yes; Calling You; Answer The Call; Gemini Tango; Wake Up; Rearranged String Quartet version).

Personnel

Jenny Davis: voice / vocals; Jovino Santos Neto: piano; Chuck Deardorf: bass; Jeff Busch: drums; Kurt Testinger: saxophone, tenor; Mark Taylor - Saxophone: saxophone; Heather Bentley: violin; David Lang: accordion; Kate Olsen: saxophone, soprano; Jin Dehoie: saxophone, baritone; Fung Chern Hwei: violin; Gregor Huebner: violin; Ronald Lawrence: viola; Jeremy Harman: cello.

Album information

Title: Rearranged | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Three Penny Records

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