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Whisper Not is a fresh take on the traditional jazz repertoire by New Zealand vocalist Tessa Quayle. A gifted melodicist and improviser, Quayle brings a unique and personalized approach to these ten jazz and American Songbook standards. While she may not be a household name, yet, Quayle gives a performance that stands on its own two feet, firmly solidifying her as a singer to watch for as she moves forward in her budding career.
Quayle has chosen a nice variety of tunes to include on this record. There are classics such as "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Come Rain or Come Shine," lesser played songbooks standards "Black Coffee" and "Where or When," as well as two Horace Silver tracks, "Lonely Woman" and "Come on Home."
While the album contains a wide variety of tunes, one thing that stays consistent is the high-quality of the arrangements. Each tune is given a new and personalized treatment. There are no "head charts" on the album. Quayle has carefully approached each track with an ear for the creative, while still maintaining a thread of familiarity in the arrangements.
As a performer, Quayle is an entertaining and enjoyable vocalist who is equally adept with her melodic interpretations as she is with her improvised solos. In a day and age where it's getting harder for a vocalist or instrumentalist to stand out from the crowded scene, Quayle manages to clearly define her sound right from the first notes of the album's opener "Lullaby of the Leaves."
There is a trace of the jazz tradition that weaves in and out of her vocal lines, but the tone and timbre of her instrument is solely her own. Quayle has a knack for finding subtle ways to twist and turn a familiar melody line, helping to define her musical style. Where a bluesy line would be expected, she dives into bebop. When the tune seems ready for a slow and sultry melody, she kicks it into double- time. These unexpected moments are some of the most enjoyable on the album and are key to the album's success.
Whisper Not is a solid outing by this talented Kiwi. While she may not have a strong presence outside her home country, this album is the first step in bringing much deserved attention to yet another hidden gem of the New Zealand jazz scene.
Track Listing: Lullaby of the Leaves; Black Coffee; Where or When; Alice in Wonderland;
Come Rain or Come Shine; Whisper Not; Detour Ahead; Night in Tunisia;
Lonely Woman; Come on Home.
Personnel: Tessa Quayle: vocals; Ben Wilcock: piano; Nick Tipping: bass; Reuben
Bradley: drums; Alexis French: Trumpet (7, 10).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.