There are records created through years of preparation and production that take a lifetime to achieve. Soul to Soul by vocalist Carmen Lundy, indeed falls in that category, yet defies categorization. Lundy is setting her own course, while other singers seek safe refuge in tepid covers of popular standards. She offers original material delivered with authenticity that can only come from a seasoned jazz veteran.
Studying the roster of musicians on this record, there is no surprise that the outcome is poised and polished. Securing and featuring pianists Patrice Rushen and Geri Allen was a major coup for Lundy as she had these two in mind specifically for this project. Trumpet ace Randy Brecker was brought in for his special touch, as was sax man Bennie Maupin. This stellar lineup is anchored by bassist Darryl Hall and drummer Jamison Ross who has been with Lundy for some time now.
There is a well-balanced flow of tempos and melodies all wrapped around songs mined from personal trials and tribulations. Opening with the upbeat numbers "Kindred Spirits" singing praises to childhood recollections, and the autobiographical "Life Is A Song In Me." The pace winds down from the title track through "Daybreak," a sparse arrangement sung in praise of a new morning filled with high expectations. "Between Darkness and Dawn" portrays those gentle, yet playful, romantic hours everyone dreams about. South African vocalist Simphiwe Dana is featured on "Grace," an inspiring and emotional tribute to the everlasting spirit of the African Diaspora and its enduring contribution and survival in spite of overwhelming exploitation and abuse.
"Grateful" comes in two parts, first the ballad approach, then kicking into a soulful groove for the second part. A light samba flavor is injected into "Everything I Need," and "Don't You Know How I Feel," is pure jazz, Lundy doing what she does best, interplaying with the trumpet in perfect harmonization.
It's only fitting that Lundy would choose a Mary Lou Williams blues, "What's Your Story, Morning Glory," as the closing number. An excellent vocal and piano duo, it suggests a soft landing for what has been quite a ride.
Carmen Lundy's vocal style did not come easy, it has taken its sweet time to get here and is not in any hurry. Her nuances span from a down home tenor to a big band trumpet. The songs on Soul To Soul come from the deep end of a woman's emotion, from the primordial source of jazz, soul, and the blues, where mysteries are revealed for those courageous enough to listen and appreciate where she is coming from.
Kindred Spirits; Life Is A Song In Me; Soul To Soul; When Will They Learn; Daybreak; Between Darkness and Dawn; Grace; Grateful Pt. 1; Grateful Pt. 2; Everything I Need; Don’t You Know How I Feel; Sardegna; What’s Your Story, Morning Glory.
Carmen Lundy: vocals, guitar, piano (1), Rhodes (11), keyboards (8), drums (12), percussion (1, 6) string arrangements and programming; Patrice Rushen: piano, Rhodes, keyboards; Darryl Hall: acoustic and electric bass; Jamison Ross: drums and percussion; Geri Allen: piano (8, 13) Rhodes (6, 9); Randy Brecker: trumpet (3, 10, 11), flugelhorn (3); Mayra Casales: percussion, congas; Simphiwe Dana: vocals (7); Bennie Maupin: tenor sax, soprano sax (5, 9); Carol Robbins: harp ( 4, 5, 6, 10); Ada Rovatti: tenor sax ( 3, 10); Warren Wolf: vibes (5, 8, 12); Background Vocals: Carmen Lundy, Patrice Rushen, Jamison Ross (2) Mayra Casales (7), Darryl Hall (7), Elisabeth Oei (7).