Well if it isn’t one Caswell; this one is Rachel, a vocalist with few peers in the timbral voice that ascends the heavens in the first blush of amaryllis and with waif-like beauty. If you’ve already heard the violinist Sara Caswell in several ensembles, but not Rachel, imagine the soaring beauty of the violin transposed to Rachel Caswell’s voice. There is a certain creaminess here and an angelic soaring into a rarefied realm. As an actress she is compelling. The characters that she plays in her songs come to life with every human frailty so as to be unabashedly real. And there is something of a reaching out to lover’s arms, even to the divine with plaint lyricism. She is the eyes of the heart and she wears this special trait with an attractive soft-focus quality.
The small-scale forces used here 0 a solo voice that plays against the bare minimum of just a guitar, or a bass violin help to keep the music light on its feet and allow for clarity of texture and beauty of line. And this is wonderfully captured in the warmth of the studio acoustic. These are intimate vocalastics, not given to huge drama or massive presence and one in which the most striking gesture is like a simple amen at the end of a cheerfully moving “Feelin’ Groovy” or a melancholic “If I should Lose You” take it in the direction of inner calm. The illuminating contrast of the two moods and moments enable us to feel the immense beauty of Ms. Caswell’s voice as he sings or scats in a manner that Sheila Jordan might have had her do. Whichever way she decides to take her exquisite voice it sounds simple, nude and spectacular. The disposition and manipulation of musical forces is intricate and supple; a solo voice working in juxtaposition with a solitary guitar or a bass; a vocal expedition so superb that it made me catch my breath time and time again. Such vocal dexterity is truly astonishing and well worth exploring.
There is plenty of opportunity to do so on this album, “All I Know: Duets with Dave Stryker & Jeremy Allen”. The twelve songs make up a set that test every technical faculty; challenges every vocal chord in Ms. Caswell’s slender throat. And she makes it through with such utter beauty that she not only seals your very breath but your heart as well. This is vintage vocalising, making the partnership that She shares with each of her instrumental partners something almost spiritually gorgeous. These duets do what the best of them do best; retain a freshness and questing spirit, which sometimes eludes many such partnerships. You get an immediate sense of joyous music-making that has marked out these musicians from the start and which they have never lost. And this joy is utterly infectious on the listener.
Track List: Sometimes I Know; You Don’t Know What Love Is; For All We Know; I Fall In Love Too Easily; The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy); Tell Him I Said Hello; If I Could Lose You; All I Know; De-Dah; Agua De Beber; I’ve Never Been In Love Before; One For My Baby
Personnel: Rachel Caswell: vocals; Dave Stryker: guitar (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11); Jeremy Allen: bass (2, 5, 7, 10, 12)
Label: Turtle Ridge Records | Release date: April 2015
About Sara Caswell
Jazz vocalist Rachel Caswell is best known for her improvisational prowess and her pinpoint accuracy of pitch and rhythm; however, audiences are increasingly drawn to her depth of delivery and interpretation of popular song. Her new CD All I Know: Duets with Dave Stryker & Jeremy Allen (2015) elicited the following response from jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan: “Rachel is a wonderful singer with a deep feeling and a fantastic improvisational talent complimented by a lovely rich sound” while one reviewer wrote, “…Caswell is a hugely memorable standout. She’s one worth a devoted following.” And in response to Rachel’s debut CD Some Other Time (2003) with Lynne Arriale, Kelly Sill, Steve Davis, and her sister, violinist Sara Caswell, internationally renowned jazz pedagogue David Baker said, “Rachel Caswell is that rara avis who is truly a jazz vocalist. Her intonation is impeccable, her diction precise, her jazz sensibilities above reproach, and she swings like mad!” Read more…