On Vis-a-Vis the group Siora pushes the concept of "world music" hard with an offering of eleven tunes sung in seven different languages by vocalist Phyllis Chapell in front of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Middle Eastern rhythms.
The set kicks off in Portugese, on "Nacoa," a smooth rhythmic flow aided by Ralph Bowen's flute, with interludes of Chapell's mellifluous scatting with added yips, hoots and chirps. She proves herself an exuberant and uninhibited vocalist. Somebody blows a whistle in there, too. And for all that, it's done with such elan that feeling of the tune remains appealingly pretty and approachable and made for dancing.
"La Habanera (excerpt from Carmen)" goes with a more manstream beat behind Dan Kleinman's organ breeze, and then a fiery tenor sax spot by guest Ralph Bowen; and "Estate," featuring Howard Levy's harmonica weaving around Chapell's rich contralto rendering of the Italian lyric.
This is a set that could have been one of those distractingly "mixed bag" CDs, with all the styles and languages involved, but Dan Kleinman's arrangements and keyboard playing holds the sound together, giving it a straight-through cohesion.
"Danca da Solidao" is a particular favorite here, spicy piano work, a bounce in its step; with a rhythm that entices the dancers up out of their chairs.
Track Listing: Nacoa, La Habanera, Estate, Danca da Solidao, We Always Say Goodbye, Viva Jujuy, This Moment, Shim'u Shochnei Ohalim, Who Am I?, Un Flambeau, Jeanette Isabella, Infinite Lover
Personnel: Dan Kleinman--keyboards and backgroudn vocals; Phyllis Chapell--vocals, guitar on track 6; Steve Beskrone--bass; Jimmy Coleman, Ted thomas--drums; Rafael Cruz--percussion; Gyest Artists: Howard Levy--harmonica; Ralph Bowen--saxophone and flute; John Swana--trumpet; Negin Moshtagh--daf, tonbak; Clyde Stubblefield--drum samples