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Singer/songwriter Ayelet Rose Gottlieb's last project, an interpretation of the Bible's erotic Song of Songs, was a genre-straddler that succeeded both instrumentally and vocally. With Upto Here | From Here she stretches out with very strong originals in the presence of some NYC jazz stalwarts: drummer Take Toriyama, bassist Ed Schuller, pianist Anat Fort, saxophonist Loren Stillman and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. This modern jazz session highlights her voice as an integral instrument in what becomes a texturally heady setting.
That voice can certainly be straightforward and declarative as she commands that "Life is a Structure That is (Accept it)" or when matter-of-factly describing the bittersweet juices of her "Pomegranate Man." She nestles in 13th century Persian philosopher Rumi's love poems, resulting in a delicate "The Most Alive Moment" and mysterious "Some Kiss." Israeli poet Agi Mishol lends her words to a plaintively sensual "Letter" and the existentially celebratory title cut. In addition, prose from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aids in creating the very bluesy "Sweep Streets."
A lovely reworking of Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" sits surprisingly well among these enchanting originals and artistic constructions before things close with the danceable bonus cut "Venezia." In the seemingly unending stream of vapid female jazz vocal recordings, Gottlieb is one of a handful of who is taking chances that are paying off handsomely.
Track Listing: Pomegranate Man; Life Is A Structure That Is (Accept It!); The Most Alive Moment; Wrong Rain (bird thoughts); Letter; Sweep Streets; Upto Here From Here; The Nearness Of You; Some Kiss; Hidden Forbidden; And In The End; Venezia.
Personnel: Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: voice, balloon; Loren Stillman: saxophones; Avishai Cohen: trumpet, whistle; Ed Schuller: bass; Take Toriyama: drums, percussions, toys; Anat Fort: piano; Venezia Mizrahi: spoken voice.