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Natalie Cressman and Secret Garden: Unfolding

C. Michael Bailey By

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Track review of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"

If John the Baptist was supposed to be the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, then Natalie Cressman is certainly the same for Jack Teagarden. Both sing and play trombone, and that is all that's required for a spiritual connection. Cressman's debut, Unfolding, sports a crazy "Honeysuckle Rose" and a slew of fine originals. Equally capable as a vocalist and trombonist, Cressman—best-known these days as a member of Phish's touring band brass section—is also quite the decent arranger, favoring brass choral introductions not unlike fellow vocalist/trombonist Henry Darragh.

Cressman is fearless in her conquering of bassist Charles Mingus' elegy to saxophonist Lester Young, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Cressman adopts the lyrics penned by Joni Mitchell's for the singer/songwriter's Mingus (Asylum, 1979), but completely and cleverly re-orchestrates the song. Introducing the piece with brass counterpoint, Cressman proceeds to vocally navigate the craggy harmony, lyrics and time of this challenging composition. Her voice is pitched well and even through the mid-range, giving the song a certain noir cast. Her arrangement turns the song into a chamber piece with solid momentum and appeal. A sweet deal.

Track Listing: Flip; Whistle Song; Honeysuckle Rose; Echo; Skylight; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Waking; Reaching For Home; That Kind.

Personnel: Natalie Cressman: trombone, vocals; Ivan Rosenberg: trumpet; Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: tenor saxophone; Pascal Le Boeuf: piano; Ruben Samama: acoustic bass; jake Goldbas: drums, percussion.

Title: Unfolding | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

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