The categorization of "Jazz Vocal," which through time has come to cover an expanding field of wide ranging artists, might not be the appropriate tag to hang on Gino Sitson.VoiStrings is a showcase for Sitson's vocal extensions to take on another dimension as he explores in depth the art of singing as instrumentation. Accompanied by a tight ensemble that supplies a comfortable setting for Sitson to do his thing, he delivers a relaxed and assuring production, which not only demonstrates his remarkable vocal technique and styling, but highlights the other musicians as vital contributors.
Opening with the way too short "Let's Do It," its expressive groove serving as an intro for the soul tinged "Nda Yahwe," the record weaves through a mixed bag of colorful rhythms and sophisticated arrangements. "Beu nen," is a moving melancholy number where Sitson interplays with the viola of Lev Zhurbin in an imaginary journey back to his home. Sitson is from Cameroon, where he originated "Up Eye," "Youp Kwi," and "Katcha," sung in local dialects, and dealing with provincial topics.
"VoiStrings," is the centerpiece track and features him twisting and turning with the viola and cello, the latter played with dashing finesse by Jody Redhage. The original concept for the entire record was just voice, viola and cello, so this piece shows much thought and concentration. The perception is taken a step further on "VoCello," where they delve into a somber chamber mood, yet manage to lighten it up and come out shining.
There is a defined closure in "The Gathering," specifically composed for the accompanying musicians as Sitson's nod of gratitude on a job well done. This could certainly apply for Sitson himself on this self-produced effort, where he not only composed and arranged the songs, but set the tone for what is an impressive and distinctive recording.
Let’s Do It; Nda Yahwe; Bulawayo Xmas; Salam Salem; Beu nen; Up eye; Suite for John; Youp Kwi; VoiStrings; Timeless Mood; Elégie Opus 24; Genau; Maiden Voyage; Katcha; VoCello; The Gathering.
Gino Sitson: lead and backing vocals, vocal effects; Helio Alves: piano; Lonnie Plaxico: double bass; Willard Dyson: drums; Jody Redhage: cello; Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin: viola; Charenee Wade: voice (13).