Australian vocalist and lyricist Ingrid James has collaborated with French pianist Alexis Tcholakian's trio for her fifth album, Trajectoire. The collaboration works well, creating a sophisticated collection of songs with depth and beauty.
Tcholakian's triobassist Simon Teboul and drummer Thierry Tardieuis augmented by additional musicians from time to time. Flute, guitar, flugelhorn and saxophone all add color and tonal variation to the songs, effective contributions in every case.
James' slow, dreamlike, take on Jimmy Rowles and Norma Winstone's "A Timeless Place" is the opening track: all the others are original James/Tcholakian compositions. The singer's intimate performance is immediately engaging but the song is almost over-familiarit's the new numbers that hold the most promise, a collection that, while built on the tradition of jazz and the American Songbook, take that tradition just a little bit away from its usual comfort zone.
Mariane Bitran's flute adds a featherlight beauty to "Trajectoire," complementing James as she sings the melancholy tale. "A Page Has Turned" is another melancholy story, this time with Tcholakian and saxophonist Simon Spang-Hanssen adding emotive solos. "Night Reflection" is lighter, thanks to a gentle swing accompaniment and James' singing and wordless vocal chorus. So, too, is the faster "Midsummer Flower," another number to benefit from Bitran's contribution. "Circle Of Love" is probably the most upbeat of the songs, although it's more pop-soul than jazz.
The voice/piano duet that opens "It's Not Over" is one of the album's most evocative momentsTeboul and Tardieu enhance the mood when they make their appearance. The romantic "An Angel Touched Me" is probably the finest example of the James/Tcholakian songwriting partnership, another gently swinging number with a lyric that tells of enduring love.
Trajectoire gets a physical release in Australia, a digital release for the rest of the world. The digital version, which this review is based on, sounds crisp and clear, presenting James' beautiful voice to excellent effect.
A Timeless Place; Trajectoire; An Angel Touched Me; Blue Confluence; Jagged Thorn; Midsummer Flower; A Page Has Turned; Night Reflection; Circle Of Love; Dance With Me; It's Not Over.
Ingrid James: vocals; Alexis Tcholakian: piano; Simon Teboul: bass; Thierry Tardieu: drums; Simon Spang-Hanssen: saxophone; Miroslav Bukovsky: flugelhorn; Mariane Bitran: flute; Guillaume Muschalle: guitar; Todd Harrison: drums.
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