Laurin Talese, a young Cleveland vocalist new to me, but not to her accomplices offers an imaginative programme framing her own beautiful writing with two classic American songs is a true revelation. Her work leaps off the page in a manner that no vocalist really has in a long time. I rather think that I may be forgiven the hyperbole when listeners hear her sensuous, breathtaking voice, hovering in the mezzo range, but often soaring to a pure supple soprano, dancing rhythmically like the blue flame – the hottest part of a melting candle. Talese vividly catches the varied moods of these songs that she has written not only for herself by for the entire world to hear.
In the flawless and deftly executed espionage of ‘Trenchcoat’ she is mysterious and she reduces her imperious tone to a whispering sliver of gold in ‘Forgive and Forget’. She and her colleagues also tear gleefully into ‘Tick Tock’, a song that is alive with rocking rhythm and plangent tonal colours – in the voice as well as in the gorgeous instrumentation. Laurin Talese virtually cuts loose on the classic ‘Cry Me A River’ as she revels in an intuitive interpretation along with band mates, Christian McBride, Christian Sands and Ulysses Owens Jr. Although Talese couldn’t ask for a better trio, the other musicians on this fine disc are no slouches either. Imperious brass and warm, moist woodwinds make it easy to be bowled over by the very special arrangements and production values eminently suited to Talese’s superb diamantine voice, which is superbly cut in new angles to match the music’s gently exotic use of consonance and melodic ornament.
As one might expect the musicians combine their own singular instrumental voices with Talese’s with exquisite percussion and capriciously flexible harmony and forward momentum to this music. I suspect that the name of Ulysses Owens Jr in the production credits has something to do with this in no small measure, not that Adam Blackstone deserves any less credit for his hand in proceedings. However, it is the fact that Laurin Talese has wrung more drama from these words and her blending of the pure instrumental timbres and delicate agility of her voice is the hero of this stunning recording appropriately entitled Gorgeous Chaos.
Track List: Someone to Watch Over Me; This Love; My Husband; Trenchcoat; Love Poems; Same Mistakes; Winter; Kissing a Foot; Made Up My Mind; Tick Tock; Forgive and Forget; Cry Me A River.
Personnel: Laurin Talese: vocals; Aaron Marisi: alto saxophone (8); Adam Blackstone: bass (2, 4, 6 – 9); Adam Rongo: alto saxophone (3); Anthony DeCarlo: guitar (5, 12); Anwar Marshall: drums (2, 7, 8); Ben O’Neill: guitar (8, 10); Christian McBride: bass (3, 5, 10, 11, 12); Christian Sands: piano (3, 5, 10, 11, 12); Dontae Winslow: trumpet, trombone (6, 9); Eric Wortham (2, 4, 6 – 9); Erskine Hawkins: piano, strings (4, 6); Jamar Jones: strings 2); Joe Truglio: drums (4, 6, 8); Josh Lawrence: trumpet (4, 7, 8); Monet Guthrie: backing vocals (5); Nick Grinder: trombone (3); Paul Tafoya: trumpet (3); Steve Marr: baritone saxophone (8); Steve Tripak: trombone (4, 7, 8); Tim Green: alto saxophone, flute (6, 9); Ulysses Owens Jr: drums (3, 5, 10 – 12); Yesseh Furaha-Ali: tenor saxophone (2, 4, 6 – 9).
Release date: March 2016
Running time: 54:56