Kadi Vija and Lucas Dann: Ugly BeautyBy
There is a clarity and purity to Vija's singing that is rather beguiling, evident especially on the more ruminative pieces. The title track in particular is revealing in its emotional vulnerability, as Vija teases out unadorned, languid notes with understated grace. Dann's sympathetic accompaniment also shines here, as he provides the perfect support with harmonically rich chords and a delicate touch. Vija's wispy lines also get plenty of room to emerge on "Monk's Mood," as she traces the melodic contours of the piece with nuanced skill and subtlety.
On the more up-tempo tracks, Vija's rhythmic vitality comes to the surface, with both renditions of "Bemsha Swing" quite imaginative and creatively phrased. Dann's percussive accompaniment on the alternative take is especially effective in energizing Vija's adventurous re-working of the melody. And listen to the two as they collaborate wonderfully on the bouncy "Booboo's Birthday," with Dann and Vija in perfect rapport as Dann offers a strutting accompaniment that toys with the tempo while Vija saunters alongside him. While Vija's delivery isn't exactly flawless on the jauntier tracksshe sometimes struggles with hitting her upper-range notes consistently and there's some occasional wobble in pitch as wellthe vigorous sense of discovery and bold reinvention of the material tend to outweigh the performance's shortcomings.
With the courage and creativity on display here, there's little doubt that both of these musicians will have more to say in the future. In the meantime, this is a nice tribute to Monk's legacy and a recording that's fully in the spirit of the master's inimitable style.
Gallop's Gallop; Bemsha Swing; Monk's Mood; Boo Boo's Birthday; Ask Me Now; Introspection; In Walked Bud; Work; Bemsha Swing (alternate take); Ugly Beauty
Kadi Vija: voice; Lucas Dann: piano
Title: Ugly Beauty | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Texicalli
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About Kadi Vija
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