Many artists have day jobs to pay the bills, and vocalist Mayita Dinos is no exception. After studying landscape design, and working in the field for "decades," Dinos emerges with a debut jazz vocal recording The Garden is My Stage
. But, this is no wet-feet newbie recording. Dinos has been performing as an avocation around her Los Angeles home, including jam sessions hosted by vocalist and composer Cathy Segal-Garcia
, who recognised Dinos' potential, taking her under her wing as a vocal instructor and serving as co-producer of this disc. What emerges here is a fully-formed musical vision, internally integrated and deliberately conceived.
Cooperating closely with guitarist and arranger Dori Amarilio
, Dinos seasons every selection presented with the unifying clave rhythm of Brazilian music, languid, humid, sexy. The singer demonstrates how seamlessly the jazz songbook can be adapted to this humid lyric sway. The disc opens with Charlie Parker's "Ornithology," with lyrics penned by Dinos. So convincing is this performance that it is difficult not to argue a presence of this clave-driven soul in the collective unconscious of all music. Dinos extrapolates the same spirit to Thelonious Monk
's "Pannonica,' "Lullaby of the Leaves," and "Willow Weep for Me." In all cases, these sound jazz standards are further transformed into an easy Bossa Nova, one that is living and breathing and creating.
The original Bossa Nova pieces: "Un pais con el nombre de un rio," "Double Rainbow," and "Agua de beber" are lushly presented, Dinos' perfectly balanced voice cushioned carefully by a sensitive and capable rhythm section. Michael Hunter
's deft flugelhorn echoes this lushness on a lightly swinging take on Freddie Hubbard
's "Little Sunflower." Inspired, Dinos takes a lyric from Federico Garcia Lorca to compose "La Lola," performed in a duet with bassist Gabe Davis
. It is a spectacular exposition lasting just under two minutes. But, what a two minutes. The disc's showstopper is Dinos' edgy delivery of Joni Mitchell
's "Woodstock," given a cutting rock edge by Amarilio that sizzles and dances: it's time to get back to the garden, indeed. If this is a debut, the future holds great things for Mayita Dinos.
Orinthology; Come Back As A Flower; Pannonica; Woodstock; Lullaby of the Leaves; Un pais con el nombre de un rio; Little
Sunflower; Double Rainbow; La Lola; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Spanish Harlem; Willow Weep for Me; Agua de beber.