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Shiri Zorn & George Muscatello: Into Another Land

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Shiri Zorn & George Muscatello: Into Another Land
Shiri Zorn by Terri-Lynn Pellegri courtesy of the artist’s social media profile

Shiri Zorn is an innovative vocalist who inhabits her luminous soprano voice like a nightingale on the wing . Along with guitarist George Muscatello who matches her melodic flights with beautifully contrapuntal lines redolent of bright luminosity that are the equal of the vocalist’s in luminosity. Joining vocalist and guitarist is the Brasilian percussion colourist Mauricio Zottarelli, who recently re-located to Brasil from New York City, but seems to be everywhere these days, much in demand for his ability to insinuate himself and his magnificent percussive art into almost any situation into which he is thrust. This makes for a breathtaking programme on In Another World.

Together the guitarist and percussionist have created a sensitive musical backdrop that allows the vocalist to fly in the face of convention, deftly recasting tunes – both familiar and unfamiliar – into wholly new vocal benchmarks. Standards – so-called because they are familiar to the ear – have been magnificently reinvented by Miss Zorn, who is stylistically beyond compare. She inhabits song lyrics and narratives as if they speak to her in the secret space of her heart. Her diction, though, is exceptional throughout an impressive range that includes the Portuguese [Zingaro]. And there’s evidence of real imagination behind her programme and her interpretations of every one of the standards peformed here.

In any case it is an attractive collection, which Miss Zorn voices with earthiness and subtlety. Fierce and vital in Witch Touch and in I Wasn’t Ready, Miss Zorn uncovers their demotic, everyday roots while Mr Muscatello’s beautifully imagined accompaniments [to her voice and Mr Zottarelli’s  percussion] emphasise balletic figurations of what might have been piano – even larger ensemble – parts. Mr Zottarelli is not heard anywhere on his magnificent drum set. Instead he applies a myriad of percussion instruments to underscore and often gently punctuate guitar and vocal lines.

The most outstanding chart on this album is – without a doubt – Ann Ronell’s Willow Weep for Me. Her Miss Zorn introduces her own lyric which is crafted from a 1932 poem Slichot [Atonements] by the Hebrew poet Leah Goldberg. Suddenly this song comes alive like never before, now re-invented as a universal anthem of a fatal love that comes undone by betrayal. And yet the essence of Miss Ronnell’s wispy elegy is retained with a painful helplessness so real that you can almost taste it.

This is one of those magical albums that comes your way when all the musical pillars of the cosmos are aligned. This time it took an exceptional vocalist in the form of Shiri Zorn to make that happen.

Deo gratis…!

Tracks – 1: Witch Touch; 2: How Deep is the Ocean; 3: Zingaro [Retreto e Branco e Preto]; 4: Beautiful Love; 5: I Wasn’t Ready; 6: Vivo Sonhando [Dreamer]; 7; Willow Weep for Me; 8: Detour Ahead

Musicians – Shiri Zorn: voice; George Muscatello: guitar; Mauricio Zottarelli: percussion

Released – 2022
Label – Independent
Runtime – 37:50

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