There's immediate comfort in encountering Audrey Silver's music for the first time. Her voice is an open invitation, an instrument of confession and creation that immediately transports you to someplace else. That's evident from her first utterances through her last words on Very Early.
In putting together this program, Silver thought long and hard about song selection. It shows, both in the eclectic playlist she created and through the unique arrangements born of her thoughts and Steven Santoro's clever pen. Everything from overdone Broadway favorites to original material to jazz standards sounds fresh in these interpretations.
Irish singer-songwriter Declan O'Rourke's "Galileo" provides a gentle entryway into Very Early, with pianist Bruce Barth's woolgathering serving as a dreamy introduction. Silver then settles in to tell the tale of a wrestling match between emotion and intellect in the titular figure, never underselling the lyrics or overplaying the heart, and it proves to be one for the books. Then there's a spin through "Surrey With The Fringe On Top" in five, a riveting original collaboration between Silver and Dominique Gagné dubbed "The Cold Wind's Embrace," and a shadowy take on "Getting To Know You" that's more a tale of lurking and voyeurism than a sign of positive personal discoveries. Smart writing, twists in intention, and big-picture talent play as one in these first selections and the music that follows.
While originals often play as substandard filler that sits between the welcome and familiar fare on vocal jazz albums, that couldn't be further from the truth here. "Goodbye New York," with lyrics from poet Deborah Garrison, is a memorable paean to The Big Apple that rests at a balance point between adult-oriented pop and jazz, "When The World Was New" speaks with a contemplative beauty that's heightened by Tom Beckham's vibraphone and Gary Versace's accordion, and the aforementioned "The Cold Wind's Embrace" is a powerful statement that ties Silver to her late mother and addresses the depressive streaks they share. Pieces like those stand on equal footing with pure jazz expressions like Bill Evans's "Very Early," beautifully and expertly rendered in trio here with Beckham and bassist Paul Beaudry, and semi-outliers like Sting's alluring "Until."
In addition to the aforementioned material, Silver investigates the work of everybody from Bobby Troup to Mose Allison to Keren Ann to Leonard Bernstein, constantly putting herself to the test in different ways and always coming out on top. Audrey Silver may not have widespread name recognition, but she certainly has the talent to get it.
Galileo; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; The Cold Wind's Embrace; Getting To Know You; Goodbye New York; Until; Lemon Twist; Very Early; What's With You; Jardin D'Hiver; Lucky To Be Me; When The World Was New.
Audrey Silver: vocals; Bruce Barth: piano (1-7, 9-12); Paul Beaudry: bass; Lewis Nash: drums (1-7, 9-12); Alex Pope Norris: trumpet (2, 3, 6, 10); Gary Versace: accordion (6, 12); Ron Affif: guitar (9); Tom Beckham: vibraphone (7, 8, 12).
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