The body of compositions known as “jazz standards” has proved to be as durable as it is long lived. These musical pieces, partially provided by the “Great American Songbook” and partially by composing jazz practitioners, have afforded artists a veritable bottomless pit of material with which to apply their own unique vision. One-hundred-plus years of recording history have resulted in a great many standard interpretations. So now it is difficult, if not aesthetically dangerous, for newer artists to delve into its center, attempting anything new from the old. The days when a standards collection could be assembled and presented with little thought are gone. A standards collection recorded today must be carefully programmed and performed, It is also beneficial that the collection be thematically integrated. It is this careful curation, this thoughtful selection of material coupled with a seasoned instrumental approach, which makes vocalist Kristin Callahan‘s Lost in a Dream successful.
Lost in a Dream follows two previous releases by the Washington, DC-based Callahan, A New Love (Self Produced, 2011) and One Magic Day (Self Produced, 2013), each a more tradition exposition of the standards book. For the present recording, Callahan and bassist-arranger Eliot Seppa, accomplish the “something new (or newer)” by using a guitar-bass-percussion rhythm section consisting of guitarist Matvei Sigalov, Seppa, and percussionist Tom Teasley (among others) and an organically centered production approach to recording. The entire recital is given a light Latin treatment, providing the collection its focal integration. Never heavy-handed, each song bears its Latin seasoning well. In particular, “Lush Life” and “‘Round Midnight” are revealed as capable vehicles for the Latin humidity imparted by the gentle clave rhythm employed.
The Ellington-Tizol composition “Caravan” is a perfect song for this presentation. What sets its performance apart from others is the forward-thinking guitar solo of Sigalov, which mixes equal parts of flamenco, Far East scales, with a touch of Stephen Stills (“Carry On”) tossed in the mix in an edgy and anxious monolog buffeted by precision percussion. It is as provocative as revealing. Callahan’s evenly tempered voice proves a great match for the material. The sum of results is a svelte interpretation not within a light year of a cliche. In between lies “The Shadow of Your Smile” and the title track, both strategically performed to express the integral Latin without becoming saccharine or overstated. Callahan’s and Seppa’s tactical application of Joe Herrera‘s trumpet, Matt Rippetoe‘s saxophone and added percussion throughout ensure the intended stylistic tone is complete It is this careful balance of thought, planning, and application that makes this recording so appealing.
Lush Life; Memories Always Start; Round Midnight; Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Lost in a Dream; Caravan; The Shadow of Your Smile; Once I Loved.
Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.
Brian Woodruff Sextet is reviewed by Exclusive Magazine with “A Centering Peace.”
Michael Doherty’s Music Log reviews Blues Muse, It Never Entered My Mind