Trinity is a very dramatic and theatrical effort that thematically strives to present all aspects of the human spirit, both positive and negative. Singer Barbara Montgomery has a dramatic and theatrical presentation, and her smoky voice is a fine way to deliver her messages on many of these mournful songs. One can easily describe her as being a chanteuse who would most likely be performing in a cabaret setting. On the album's sole standard, "I Fall In Love Too Easily," the lyrics are acted out, rather than read, and the result detracts from the melody line. Although performed by jazz musicians, most of this album does not fall in a jazz vocal category.
Montgomery chooses two Leonard Cohen compositions which make an interesting contrast. "Alexandra Leaving" is an admittedly depressing song and in a Leonard Cohen-like fashion, a chorus reinforces the vocal lines. On the other hand, "1,000 Kisses Deep," a love song, is rendered with a rather sad message and almost a Gallic emphasis. Montgomery is obviously fluent with French and performs comfortably on "Avec Le Temps" in much the same way.
The credentials of the musicians on hand are readily apparent. Arranger/pianist Aaron Graves is frequently heard, as well as Joe Ford's soprano sax on "Little One," and John Swana's trumpet/flugelhorn on Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic." Montgomery does loosen up on a few occasions. On "Junkman," which originated on a 1971 singer/songwriter folk-rock album, she infuses the lyrics about a neighborhood drug dealer with some humor, and Monette Sudler's guitar solo appropriately mines 1970s rock styles. Montgomery is most comfortable with the melody and lyric message of the Van Morrison piece "Crazy Love," and also on the jazz-inflected title tune, which closes the album.
Barbara Montgomery and her arranger, Aaron Graves, have constructed an ambitious work, and surely a physical presentation of these songs would be a visual and auditory treat. I would expect it to be fine entertainment at an expensive supper club or hotel performance room, and I would suspect that audiences expecting the above would not be disappointed.
Alexandra Leaving, Little One, If It's Magic, April 14, Avec Le Temp, 1,000 Kisses Deep, Junkman, She Speaks, Between, Crazy Love, I Fall In Love Too Easily, Trinity.
Barbara Montgomery, vocals; Aaron Graves, piano,keyboards, percussion, electric bass; Lee Smith, Steve Beskrone or Cliff Kellum, acoustic bass; Mike Boone, electric bass; Wilby Fletcher, Dan Monaghan, Butch Reed or Jimmy Coleman,drums; Marlon Simon, congas; Doc Gibbs, congas/percussion; Ron Jennings or Monette Sudler, electric guitar; Joe Ford, soprano sax; John Swana, flugelhorn,trumpet; Louis Taylor, alto sax; Jay Davidson, baritone sax; Lynn Riley, flute.