June Bisantz & Alex Nakhimovsky: Loves’s Tango Review
by Shannon Smith
June Bisantz and Alex Nakhimovsky are not new to the recording game. Bisantz’ 2012 release, It’s Always You, inspired by the vocal work of the legendary Chet Baker, featured both familiar and obscure Baker songs spanning the course of his career. Pianist, Nakhimovsky with award winning Joe Hisaishi’s New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo was recorded and released on the Universal label as American In Paris in 2005. Later that year, Nakhimovsky toured with the Orchestra, performing in Japan’s major concert halls. As co-producer of Russia’s Baikal Waves International.Jazz Festival since 2006, Nakhimovsky has made cross-cultural connections for several Russian Music Festivals, bringing important international artists such as Tania Maria, Richard Bona, Mike Stern, Jeff Tain Watts and Jeff Lorber to Russia. He is currently co-founder and artistic director of the BSBI Jazz Festival in Manchester, CT.
Together Bisantz and Nakhimovsky have collaborated a deliciously Latin slanted release titled Love’s Tango, that features melodies by Nakhimovsky and lyrics by Bisantz. Modeled after the Latin songbook, the duo takes things a step further with unique instrumentation of violin, viola, cello, accordion, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone and even vibraphone adding to the cultural richness of the sonics. Certainly, Nakhimovsky’s classical background lends to the voicings and rich colorizations.
Bisantz has an entrancing voice, its deep and also opulently hued, with an alto tonality that adds to the sensuality of the lyrics, which she is fully committed to. Her lyric content is full of strong picturization and story lines that connect the listener to the journey. Often, I found myself checking the CD to see if it was a Latin standard, when indeed it was an original, as they all are. A fine example is “A Wish That Came True,” Bisantz rings true on the bottom register notes, the melody is exotic and refreshingly airy at the same time. Another robustly rich tune is the percussion driven tune “It’s You.” Ed Fast is the featured percussionist on this tune, his effervescent rhythm is accented by the horn section of John Mastroianni who contributes flute, clarinet, sax to the album and Jeff Holmes on trumpet/flugelhorn with Steve Davis on trombone. Another highlight on this song is the nimble fingers of guitarist Norman Johnson.
Love’s Tango is popping with sparkling melodies and outstanding performances. A fine collaboration by two talented writers that equally stand up to the task when performing. Its certainly clear they have a winning sound and a recipe for songwriting that is scrumptious.