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Carol Sudhalter: The Octave Tunes

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The notes to this thoughtful and beautifully executed disc suggest this is the first collection in which the tunes share the trait of all starting with an octave interval. True, perhaps, but what sets it apart is smart music passionately and intelligently played by musicians committed to the fine art of communication.

Carol Sudhalter is a talented multi-reed instrumentalist and her work on tenor, baritone and flute is of a piece—keen on melody, finely proportioned and always in service of sharing ideas. The Octave Tunes finds her at the helm of an assortment of musicians—some from Italy and others from the New York area—who share a penchant for putting the music in the spotlight.

What an intriguing collection of tunes; how often do we get to hear a gem like "Alice in Wonderland"? This is introduced by the lyrical yet strong piano of Carlo Barile, followed by Sudhalter delivering the melody. The pianist plays a gorgeous solo, emphasizing assured melodic sense, and is paced by Sudhalter, in whose hands the flute is a simple and expressive instrument of color, belying the notion, held by purists, that the flute is something of a lesser solo instrument.{Elena Camerin sings the stunning and little known "Quisiera Ser," a lovely Latin tune that benefits from blending Charlie Franklin's trumpet with Sudhalter's flute. The middle instrumental section seamlessly becomes a funky dance.

This is the debut on record of Barile, who was 18 at the time of this outing. He contributes a funny original, "Cheeseburger Blue," on which Sudhalter shows her to-the-point blues chops, with Barile offering up some suitably down-home piano. The album closes with two Christmas songs; Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" is one of several pieces that finds the leader as part of an organ trio—with Vito Di Modugno on that august keyboard. It's as rich and groovy a reading as this tune could receive.

Track Listing: Flamingo; Pancake Blues; You Go to My Head; Alice in Wonderland; Nature Boy; Quisiera Ser; Daydream; Cheeseburger Blue; Over the Rainbow; It's Only a Paper Moon; Crazy He Calls Me; Let It Snow! Let It Snow!; The Christmas Song.

Personnel: Carol Sudhalter: leader, flute (1, 4-6, 10, 12), tenor sax (2, 11, 13), baritone sax (3, 8, 9); Charlie Franklin: trumpet (6); Carlo Barile: piano (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12); Joe Vincent Tranchina: piano (5, 10); Antonio Cervellino: bass (1, 3-6, 8, 10); Roberto Pistolesi: drums (3, 8); Kaori Yamada: drums (2, 10, 11); Marti Mabin: vocals (3, 11, 13); Elena Camerin: vocals (6); Vito Di Modugno: Hammond organ (2, 7, 11, 13).

Title: The Octave Tunes | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Alfamusic

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