There are several reasons why Miki Purnell’s album Midnight Bloom is a rather good issue. First of course is the wonderful in which she tells us what the songs say to her. We’ve heard many of them before, but when Miss Purnell sings them they sound familiar but almost altogether new – and “Embraceable You” is a superb example of this. Choruses we know and can almost sing along to are interlaced throughout with ones that take off on imaginative flights before bringing us back to familiar ground.
There are some delicious pieces here, my favourite (today) being “Estrada Branca” being sung in a beautifully haunting voice that is high-sprung and lustrous. Her vocal athleticism is almost astounding and she hits the highest notes of her range effortlessly to set up the climax of the song. Moreover, it’s not just that her tuning is astonishing and particularly good when she undertakes those vocals leaps from impossible places in her register. It’s also how distinctively pristine her voice is and how well she interacts with the instruments – especially the glorious pianism of Tamir Hendelman – without losing clarity.
And finally it is also the wonderfully light way she has with rhythm and metre: this is music that can so easily get bogged down in an unremitting jog. Even more important, Miss Purnell never tries to over-egg the music. She just presents it with childlike wonder and constant energy. But somehow she manages to make it fresh – as if you’ve never heard it before. Listen to her take on “Round Midnight” where she weaves her spell together with the inimitable Bob Sheppard keeping her company on saxophone, and you will find yourself duly seduced by both her voice and compelling storytelling.
Track list – 1: There ought to be a Moonlight Saving Time; 2: Embraceable You; 3: No Moon At All; 4: Estrada Branca (This Happy Madness); 5: ‘Round Midnight/This Midnight Madness Called Jazz; 6: Quiet Now; 7: Love Dance; 8: The Night We Called It a Day; 9: Teach Me Tonight; 10:You Are There; 11: Solitary Moon; 12: Wrap Up Your Troubles in Dreams; 13: Stars (Endless Stars); 14: Midnight Bloom
Personnel – Miki Purnell: vocals; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Dan Koba: drums; Alex Frank: bass; Bob Sheppard: saxophone, clarinet and flute (2, 5, 9, 11, 12); Pat Kelley: guitar (4, 7, 11);Tommy Aros: percussion (3, 4, 7, 11)
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 1:09:32