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Melissa Stylianou: Sliding Down

Jim Santella By

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Through her program of standards and originals, jazz vocalist Melissa Stylianou interprets with an emotional fervor. She swings, she's hip, and she delivers a unique performance. Stylianou works in both lyrical presentation and thrilling wordless vocals. Musically, she carries a velvety upper register that floats gently on the breeze. But it's not her voice that stands out as the deciding factor on this recommended album; it's her accompaniment. While the album's focus remains clearly on the singer, her surrounding band members lift her performance considerably.

Stylianou is a communicator. She sings with us instead of to us. Her voice serves as an instrument that weaves the other band members together; she's a team player. This is most evident on her original "Three Little Girls, where her voice interacts with bass, mandolin, guitar and percussion to tell an exotic story. Together, they create an adventure that enthralls. Kevin Breit, Alan Hetherington, Artie Roth and Kim Ratcliffe, in particular, have given the session a hearty texture.

Later, she adds a lovely wordless vocal on "Lohengrin that interacts with cello seamlessly. While Stylianou's voice fits well in this context, everything turns out fine and mellow. The memorable portions of her program come not from the singer, but from her action-packed band.

Track Listing: Them There Eyes; Mary

Personnel: Melissa Stylianou: vocals; Kim Ratcliffe, Rob Piltch: guitar; Kevin Breit: mandolin, guitar; Artie Roth, Jon Maharaj: bass; Ted Warren, Davide Direnzo: drums; Alan Hetherington: drums, percussion; Kevin Fox: cello; Jamie Reynolds: piano.

Title: Sliding Down | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

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