Jazz vocalist Maria Guida offers another breath of fresh air in an already crowded field on her debut album Soul Eyes. Guida brings a warm and expressive voice to her performances here. Guida is quite comfortable working with a quartet consisting of pianist James Weidman, flugelhornist Ron Horton, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tony Moreno.
Guida shows an affinity for scatting and is at her best on John Coltrane's "Bessie's Blues," where she launches into a vocalese accompaniment to the melody prior to leaping into the scat improvisation. On other numbers, like Blossom Dearie's "Inside A Silent Tear," Guida displays a vibrato that may remind you of vocalist Morgana King. This aspect of her vocalizing is more evident on the ballads than the up-tempo compositions, tending to add a bit more friction. The album's centerpiece is the jazz standard "Soul Eyes," which is given a burnished ballad treatment with the assist of Horton's flugelhorn and Guida caressing the Mal Waldron lyrics.
Guida is a student of vocalist Sheila Jordan but does not bear a noticeable similarity as many of Jordan's disciples have exhibited. This allows for a lighter approach to the music that leaves the lyric message more easily stated. The closing Strayhorn classic "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" is a perfectly good example, and Guida adds the infrequently heard ballad, the Adair/Dennis "The Night We Called It A Day," to the mix. All things considered, this is a good listen!
Track Listing: How Little We Know; Inside A Silent Tear; Bessie's Blues; Soul Eyes; Let's Get Lost; East of the Sun; Spring is Here; The Way You Look Tonight; The Night We Called It A Day; No Moon at All; Four; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.
Personnel: Maria Guida: vocals; James Weidman: piano; Ron Horton: flugelhorn; Dean Johnson: bass; Tony Moreno: drums.