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Sara Caswell: The Way To You

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Sara Caswell: The Way To You
Although The Way to You is heralded as Grammy-nominated violinist Sara Caswell's first album as a leader in more than seventeen years, it was actually recorded in 2019, roughly four years before its release date. Still, it is Caswell's first new album in quite a long time, and those who relish her tasteful and melodic violin should be grateful for that.

Caswell leads her longtime working quartet here, with vibraphonist Chris Dingman sitting in on four of the session's nine numbers. The other members of the group are guitarist Jesse Lewis, bassist Ike Sturm and drummer Jared Schonig, each of whom enhances the album in his own way. Even so, it is Caswell's voice that is most emphatic and leads the way, and so the enterprise's success—or lack thereof —rests for the most part in her gifted hands.

Caswell composed three of the album's eight originals, which are presented back-to-back-to-back before the handsome finale, Antonio Carlos Jobim's "O Que Tinha de Ser," on which Caswell sets aside the violin and instead plays the slightly more mellow hardanger d'amore. As for Caswell's themes, perhaps the best of the three is the last one, the shapely "Spinning," a pensive, spare piece of beauty, wherein Caswell delivers her most enticing solo.

The opening number, "South Shore," was written by Australian trumpeter/composer Nadje Noordhuis It has its moments, as does bassist Sturm's even-tempered "Stillness" (on both of which Dingman's vibraphone lends color), but they are outshone by Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti's light-hearted "7 Aneis," which leads to the pensive title song, a variation of Michel Legrand's "On My Way to You." Caswell is a superb soloist who excels on more animated numbers such as "Voyage" and "7 Aneis." That's not to imply that she is less than admirable in cooler climes, only that her more inspiring solos on The Way to You are delivered at faster tempos.

In sum, a stylish and well-played session that might have benefited from a more astute choice of material. As it is, Caswell and her colleagues make the most of what they decided to perform.

Track Listing

South Shore; Stillness; Aneis; On My Way To You; Voyage; Warren's Way; Last Call; Spinning; O Que Tinha De Ser.

Personnel

Album information

Title: The Way To You | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Anzic Records


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