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Saturday, July 04, 2015

CD Review: Brianna Thomas - You Must Believe In Love

Brianna Thomas (vocal); Allyn Johnson (piano); Yasushi Nakamura (bass); Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums). Also featuring on some tracks: Russell Malone (guitar) Marcus Printup (trumpet); Wycliffe Gordon, Nick Grinder (trombones); Tivon Penticott (tenor sax); Riza Printup (harp)
(Review by Ann Alex).
Ms Thomas, from Peoria, Ill. has sung with jazz greats such as Clark Terry and Wynton Marsalis both at home and abroad as well as being a jazz educator teaching in New York City schools. 
This is her debut CD.
A varied selection of songs - standards such as Bye Bye Blackbird and Duke Ellington’s Daydream; Stevie Wonder’s Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer; You Must Believe In Spring (Michel LeGrand); and 4 original songs, including the entertaining Bree’s Blues -  sung in a pleasing, ‘smokey’ toned voice accompanied by musicians who, needless to say, are well up to the job.

Personally, I found some of the tracks unappealing as the distinctive style of singing didn’t really grab me. Too much pointless scatting, too fussy and over-dramatic.  I’m even tempted to say that Ms Thomas is a better song writer than performer, as her own songs were rather good.  The guest soloists did well, especially the unusual harp on Lover Of My Soul; this song was a love song (original) with a hymn-like quality. Another original I Should Have Known included a Wycliffe Gordon trombone solo which sounded as if the player was talking through the instrument.  This was very skilled playing but I’m afraid I found it rather disconcerting – other tracks had trombone solos which were more pleasing, straightforward and even tender-sounding.
The tracks I did enjoy included Daydream, with its long effective piano solo; In A Mellow Tone, which was very mellow, particularly the Marcus Printup trumpet solo: Stardust, with just voice and bass; Bree’s Blues and You Must Believe In Spring, which was sung to guitar only.
The CD was issued on Sound On Purpose Records on May 26. See www.briannathomas.com
Ann Alex.

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