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Bebop Spoken There

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CD Review: Deborah Latz - Fig Tree.


Deborah Latz – vocals; Jon Davis – piano; John Hart – acoustic & electric guitars; Ray Parker – double bass; Willard Dyson – drums, percussion; Peter Apfelbaum, tenor & soprano sax, flutes, percussion, Abdoulaye Diabate – voice on She Was.
(Review by Debra M.)
Fig Tree, Deborah Latz’s third album, comprises vocal jazz classics plus a number of World Music - flavoured songs, mostly original compositions. The opening   Blue Skies has a laid back, slightly funky groove. Other stylishly delivered standards  include; Hi-Fly, You’d be so Nice to Come Home to and S’wonderful, the latter featuring Ray Parker who can be heard  vocalising  his  solo.
The Brooklyn based singer has made the most of her top notch ensemble, with Parker and Jon Davis making compelling contributions, especially in duets with the vocalist. Embraceable You, by far the shortest track, is sung virtually acapella with Parker soloing on double bass throughout. This stripped down arrangement highlights Latz’s heartfelt interpretation of the lyric, as well as the purity of her tone and fine vocal control. She is also a linguist, and  is at ease with Latin rhythms, giving a relaxed rendition of Corcovado and E Luxo So in Portuguese, and of the Hellenic  folk song  Fevgo in Greek.
The guest multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum plays a treat, with a gorgeous tenor sax solo on Ill Wind, as well as making significant contributions to Latz’s originals. 
She Was,  an unusual  musical eulogy to her stepmother,  begins with a soundscape of percussion, bass and flute evoking a storm, which resolves into the sound of the ocean. It also features the Malian singer Abdoulaye Diabate, providing distinctive vocal contrast while Latz  explores the soprano end of her range. You Are, another unconventional composition,  dedicated to her husband, articulates her devotion through a sung love poem and Apfelbaum’s responsive, delicate and fluid tenor. And in the swinging  title  track, everyone has some fun  while  Latz’s “whimsical” lyric describes various animals getting together and hanging out under the Fig Tree. Her vocal improvisation is a menagerie of whistles, purrs, meows and growls, giving  an overall effect of ‘Johnny Morris meets Jazz’. Not a track for the purists, but possibly an amiable introduction to the genre for children…..
The 2 strands of this album - jazz standards, especially ballads, and original compositions / World Music - don't quite meld together. However they do  illustrate  the quality and distinctive nature of Deborah  Latz’s repertoire.
Deborah Latz - Fig Tree is available from May 7, 2013
Debra M.

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