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It's amazing that out of the clutter of an industrial urban center like Chicago, a voice as serene and unruffled as Alison Ruble's can exist. For her debut recording, the opulent vocalist teams up with guitarist extraordinaire/producer John McLean for an intriguing journey through a collection of timeless American classics.
The song selection, a mix of standard jazz fare and modern pop numbers, seems to suit Ruble's understated approach. McLean's acoustic guitar and stripped-down arrangements present fresh takes on the familiar and not-so-familiar. The opening "Interlude" invokes a Brazilian vibe, while Cole Porter's "So In Love" has a subdued hypnotic effect courtesy of McLean's droning accompaniment. The funky groove on "If I Had You" shows off Ruble's swinging capabilities. "Skylark" floats along with a carefree momentum. Jim Gailloreto's well-placed alto flute fills complement Ruble's unhurried phrasing and McLean's sympathetic comping. "Always Something There to Remind Me" opens with percussionist Geraldo De Oliveira's fine-tuned congas before Ruble explores the familiar Burt Bacharach staple.
The tension-building, folk-rock sensibilities of "Lazy Afternoon" contrast nicely with the straight-ahead, strolling duet between Ruble and bassist Larry Kohut on "It's Magic." Kohut's playing throughout is inventive while maintaining solid support.
Pianist Jo Ann Daugherty adds a lyrical presence, especially on the sensitive piano/voice duet "This Nearly Was Mine." Drummer Tim Davis provides a solid, low-profile pocket.
This Is A Bird is an impressive debut from a fresh voice worthy of wider recognition.
Track Listing: Interlude; So In Love; If I Had You; Skylark; Always Something There To Remind Me; We Kiss In A Shadow; Lazy
Afternoon; It?s Magic; Something In The Way She Moves; The Night Has A Thousand Eyes; This Nearly Was Mine.
Personnel: Alison Ruble: vocals; John McLean: guitar; Jo Ann Daugherty: piano; Jim Gailloreto: soprano saxophone, alto
flute; Larry Kohut: string bass, chapman stick; Tim Davis: drums; Geraldo De Oliveira: percussion.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.