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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CD Review: The Susan Krebs Chamber Band - Simple Gifts

Susan Krebs – vocals, Rich Eames – piano, Rob Lockart -  woodwind, Scott Breadman – percussion, Paul Cartwright – violin & viola.
(Review by Debra M)
Chamber ensembles developed in the era of classical music, where small group of musicians would play without a conductor in small venues and society residences, in contrast to larger orchestras conducted in formal concert halls.  ‘Simple Gifts’ is the result of a similar collaboration over several years in Southern California, between vocalist Susan Krebs and a group of jazz musicians. 
The material encompasses a wide range of musical styles, although the opening ‘Let’s Call a Heart a Heart’ is an easy going, swinging blues.  In contrast, ‘Looking Back’ a reflection on a rural childhood, has a more pastoral & classical feel with lilting phrases from violin and saxophone.  Abbey Lincoln’s ‘Throw It Away’ is outstanding; Krebs’ passionate vocal is reflected in dramatic Eastern influenced instrumentation with exquisite violin from Paul Cartwright, and great support from Scott Breadman on percussion.
Other highlights include ‘So Many Stars’ featuring Rob Lockart on free flowing soprano sax, and ‘Falling Grace’,  where the lyric is elaborated by an atmospheric soundscape,  inspired by  a winter snow storm (presumably not in California). Susan Krebs’ acting background is evident in her expressive delivery, which can be a little mannered. However, there is great cohesion and musical sympathy shared by the ensemble throughout the project.
Debra M.

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