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Kayle Brecher: Spirals And Lines

Hrayr Attarian By

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Kaylé Brecher's 2012 Spirals and Lines is a brass-rich, dramatic exploration of the vocalist, arranger and composer's various influences, with an understated yet solid political and social leitmotif.

A delightfully original trio interprets singer/songwriter Bob Dylan's "Paths of Victory" as a New Orleans-style marche. Propelled by drummer Erik Johnson's precise and rumbling beats, Brecher delivers the lyrics with exuberant humor with an undercurrent of dark satire. Her lilting vocals mirror sousaphonist Jimmy Parker's surprisingly nimble and thrilling solo.

Brecher's rendition of the traditional victory song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is full of anguish and melancholy. Her haunting voice produces goose bumps, while pianist David Dzubinski's edgy, gospel laced interlude adds to the emotional impact.

A theatrical mood prevails on the swinging "Will of the Wind," with its five-horn chorus. Brecher's eloquent, singsong recitation and sensuous scatting add a burlesque effervescence, while French hornist George Barnett's mellow moan and trumpeter Tony DeSantis' burnished high notes enhance its propulsive, big band sound.

Parker leads the ensemble in the cinematically evolving melody of Brecher's title track, another orchestral piece. His stately sousaphone and the rounded, mellow sound of the brass section frame Brecher's elegant and heady vocals. Trumpeter George Rabbai's exciting improvisation bisects the composition with an Ellingtonian flair.

Brecher channels her inner Nina Simone with a gritty and soulful take on "Noddin' Ya Head Blues," bassist Charles Mingus' condemnation of white- collar crime. Guitarist Frank Butrey's cool, complex and swaggering lines enhance lyricist Ellen Johnson's poetry.

This engaging and enjoyable record closes with the Latin harmonies of Brecher's "So It Goes," featuring Butrey's flamenco stylings and a brief but stimulating duel between Parker and bass trombonist Barry McCommon. Brecher joins conguero Edgardo A. Cintron and drummer Grant MacAvoy on percussion for the rumbling rhythms of this bottom-heavy track.

It is quite mindboggling that a musician so singular is not more widely known; hopefully the intriguing Spirals and Lines will help to bring Brecher that much- deserved recognition.

Track Listing: Spirals And Lines; High Flying Bird; When Johnny Comes Marching Home; Paths Of Victory; Will Of The Wind; Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?; The House I Live In; Noddin' Ya Head Blues; So It Goes.

Personnel: Kayle Brecher: vocals, percussion (2, 9); Jimmy Parker: sousaphone; Stan Slotter: flugelhorn, trumpet; David Dzubinski: piano; Frank Butrey: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; George Rabbai: trumpet; Tony DeSantis: trumpet; Fred Scott: trombone; Jarred Antonacci: trombone; Barry McCommon: bass trombone; George Barnett: french horn; Mike Jarosz: french horn; Grant MacAvoy: drums; Erik Johnson: drums; Adgardo Cintron: percussion.

Title: Spirals And Lines | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Penchant Four Records

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