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The line-up on this disc is likely to puzzle most listeners familiar with previous entries in the CIMP catalog. Those seeking fiery rendered free jazz rife with ecstatic energy or obliquely sculpted chamber resonances will find their initial apprehensions realized. This may not be an expected CIMP date, but it’s not the first to showcase the talents of a vocalist, Pucci Amanda Jones holds that honor. But this date takes even more chances relying on an instrumentation that leaves no place for the artists to hide. On the surface voice and bass may seem like a sparse and unwieldy combination and while the program of chosen standards is largely a familiar one, the fertile ways in which the duo interprets them are where this session really exhibits vitality and verve.
Washington is vocalist cast from a modernist jazz mold and echoes of Simone, Lincoln and Wilson reverberate in the fringes of her style. There’s also a healthy gospel lining in many of her inflections. She and Brown have an association several decades deep and their partnership resonates in the supple ways each riffs off the other. Meek’s subtle percussion accents crop up on two of the tunes and his swishing maraca beat clicks cleanly with Brown’s throbbing tropical rhythms on the Jobim classic “If You Never Come to Me.” Washington scats lightly on several choruses and the effect is both intimate and playful. “Deep River” is a study in the sheer alluring beauty that can thrive within the lush parameters of a female voice, Brown’s bass offering astute commentary. His brisk walking patterns on “With Open Eyes are similarly adroit and Washington even takes to offering soft handclapped accompaniment between verses. My personal favorites among the generous selection of interpretations include Washington’s impassioned turn on “When I Fall In Love” and the wordless vocalizations matched with elastic string play on Meek’s “Ellingtonia II” and Brown’s closing “El Monte.” Also intriguing are the ambient sounds of song birds that creep in on tracks like Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and a sudden rainstorm outside the Spirit Room that leaves it’s sonic watermark on “Lush Life.” Proof CIMP’s resolute abhorrence of fix-it-in-the-mix technology.
Each of the pieces on this disc is like a fine candied chocolate. Eat too many in one sitting and the sweet tastes are likely to be dulled by saturation; savor each morsel attentively in isolation and the flavors become far more lasting and beguiling. Based on the disc’s title this recital is only the beginning of what stands to be a fruitful partnership between CIMP crew and a vocalist whose talents deserve far wider appreciation.
CIMP on the web: http://www.cadencebuilding.com
Track Listing: Someone to Watch Over Me/ If You Never Come to Me*/ Deep River/ With Open Eyes/ When I Fall In Love/ Lush Life/ Ellingtonia II/ Foot Prints/ Autumn Leaves/ You
Personnel: Rosella Washington- vocals; Tyrone Brown- bass; Bill Meek- percussion*. Recorded: May 9 & 10, 2000, Rossie, NY.