2

Maria Neckam: Unison

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Maria Neckam: Unison Vienna native and New York-based vocalist, composer and lyricist Maria Neckam is one of those rare artists whose work is accessible without being ordinary, and cerebral without being abstruse. Her third release as a leader, Unison, has both artistic originality and commercial appeal and may be the magnum opus of her short career so far.

All fifteen tracks intricate Neckham originals that draw on a variety of influences. The result is less a patchwork and more a single tapestry that shimmers with a variety of hues. True to the heritage of her native city there are strong western classical influences. "Where Do You Think You Will Be" is an intensely spiritual duet with cellist Mariel Roberts, whose baroque arco sound is the perfect foil for Neckam's melancholic vocals. Persian mystic Hafez's poetry, mixed with austere, almost church-like music, creates an ethereal ambience that is both edgy and enchanting.

An equal spirituality prevails on the freer "The Story." Both altoists—Lars Dietrich and Will Vinson—navigate the twists and turns of the piece, backed by a rhythm section augmented by Roberts and tenor saxophonist Samir Zarif's angular punctuations

Neckam matches Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke's words with slightly atonal harmonies on "Solitude." Her agile and impeccable delivery, backed by Dietrich and Zarif's synchronized improvisations, transforms the song into a three-dimensional work of modern art.

The singer also proves herself a capable lyricist. On the title track—a surreal love sonnet—Neckham's brittle yet elastic voice infuses it with art-pop sensibilities, while Vinson's melodic sax and Kenny Warren's complex muted trumpet push it, meanwhile, closer to the jazz realm.

Despite the undeniable strength of her many talents, the one at which she most excels, perhaps, is her vocalise. Her wordless singing rises, like a soprano saxophone, over pianist Aaron Parks' modal lines on "January 2011 (Dedicated to David Kashara)," and trades bars with Nir Felder's bluesy electric guitar. Thus, in keeping with the theme of the record, she molds two separate lines of thoughts into a single, stimulating and emotive performance.

In a field dominated by whispering gamines and Peggy Lee clones, Neckam's uncompromising individuality is a refreshing digression. This album is a perfect, multifaceted product of that temperament that should satisfy both the jazz purist and casual listener.


Track Listing: I Miss You; The Story; Obsessed; Where Do You Think You Will Be?; Unison; Unavailability; Your Kindness; One Day; Solitude; New Orleans; January 2011 (Dedicated To David Kashara); I Am Waiting For My Laundry In The Sun And I Have Lost You (Laundry Song); You And I; You Will Remember; Half Full.

Personnel: Maria Neckam: voice, woodblocks (3), glockenspiel (15); Aaron Parks: piano, Fender rhodes (6, 13); Nir Felder: guitar; Thomas Morgan: bass; Colin Stranahan: drums; Will Vinson: alto saxophone (2, 5); Lars Dietrich: alto saxophone (2, 9, 10, 13, 15); Samir Zarif: tenor saxophone (2, 5, 9, 10, 13, 15); Kenny Warren: trumpet (5); Mariel Roberts: cello (2, 4, 14); Glen Zaleski: piano (6).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Bailey's Bundles
CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
Read more articles
Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
saxophone
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
Mark Murphy Mark Murphy
vocalist
Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin
clarinet
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Tony Bennett Tony Bennett
vocalist
Tierney Sutton Tierney Sutton
vocalist
Diane Hubka Diane Hubka
vocalist
Larry Goldings Larry Goldings
keyboard
Tessa Souter Tessa Souter
vocalist

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Something Real" CD/LP/Track Review Something Real
by Doug Collette
Published: March 14, 2016
Read "Tierra" CD/LP/Track Review Tierra
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "The Big Sound of Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Sound of Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Taking Flight" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Flight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "The Duke Box 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Duke Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Echoes Of Europe" CD/LP/Track Review Echoes Of Europe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 26, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!