by Russell Trunk
|Title – 7 Shades of Snow [EP]
Artist – June Bisantz
For those not in the know, a holiday recording had long been in June Bisantz’ creative plans.
A lover of the holidays with their focus on love and celebration, she understands the holiday season is also a time of reckoning – with the year just past and the new one just ahead.
Her search for material led her to this collection of holiday/winter songs entitled 7 Shades of Now (out November 8th, 2021 via Arabesque Records), written by American composers Connie Pearce and Arnold Miller in 1960-61 for cool-jazz singer June Christy.
Indeed, 7 Shades of Snow is proof of music’s power to transcend all barriers. Begun in the winter of 2020 at the height of pandemic restrictions, this project was conceived, arranged, and recorded remotely in seven separate studios with musicians who had never met – but are now forever connected through this musical adventure.
Digital technology combined with the talent and generous spirit of Jon Burr and his jazz sextet made 7 Shades of Snow a reality in spite of widespread lockdowns.
The six songs on 7 Shades of Snow speak not just to the holidays – but to the winter season as well – the poignancy of New Year’s Eve (Sorry to See You Go), the long wait for spring (Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve) and the beauty of snow itself as a canvas for all the colors of the rainbow (7 Shades of Snow).
1. The Merriest (2:30)
2. Ring a Merry Bell (3:21)
3. Hang Them On The Tree (3:23)
4. 7 Shades of Snow (3:10)
5. Sorry To See You Go (2:18)
6. Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve (2:56)
This beautiful EP opens on the joyful soiree The Merriest (complete with Brandon Lee bringing the heartfelt warmth via his trumpet work) and the gentle hipsway of Ring a Merry Bell and the luscious, finger-snapping melodies of Hang Them On The Tree (complete with Mike Eckroth and his spirited piano work).
Next up is the dulcet mastering of the title track itself 7 Shades of Snow which is backed by the gently upbeat musings of Sorry To See You Go (where Alvester Garnett and his gossamer drumming comes into full effect), this delightful EP closing on the wistful yearning of Winter’s Got Spring Up Its Sleeve.
Bassist Jon Burr’s inspired arrangements form the musical foundation of the project. With his acclaimed jazz sextet, he produced the instrumental tracks, recorded and delivered remotely, and encouraged Bisantz to create a sound studio in her home to record the vocal tracks.
Reflecting on the process, Bisantz says “Creating this body of work has been an unexpected ray of light in the midst of a dark time for the world. Through this project I have discovered an entirely new way of making music.”
What began in the isolation of Covid-19, has resulted in this exuberant collaboration, connecting artists across seemingly insurmountable barriers.
Already a June Christy fan, Bisantz quickly became enamored of these sophisticated and unusual songs and their cool-jazz vibe. Witty, ironic, and introspective, these songs are most of all honest about the range of feelings we experience during the holiday season.
Bisantz and Christy share a vocal range as well a first name, and they sing these songs in the same key.
PLAYERS & INSTRUMENTS:
June Bisantz: vocals
John Burr: bass
Mike Eckroth: piano
James Chirillo: (Char-ill-o): guitar
Brandon Lee: trumpet
Marc Pfaneuf (Fan-oof): saxophone
Alvester Garnett: drums