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Saturday, May 14, 2016

CD Review: Sari Kessler - Do Right.

Sari Kessler (vocals); John Di Martino (piano); Ron Affif (guitar); Steve Whipple (bass);  Willard Dyson (drums); James Shipp (percussion, 4 tracks); Houston Person (ten sax, 3 tracks);
Nadje Noorhuis (trpt, flug, 3 tracks)
(Review by Ann Alex)
Sari Kessler is a very talented woman, a clinical psychologist who has given up her profession to concentrate on music, a New York based jazz singer, songwriter, arranger and also a keen runner. And a very good jazz singer indeed, if this debut album is anything to go by. Sari has performed in the San Francisco Bay Area and various leading venues in Manhattan, and has wide experience of singing pop, soul, as well as studio and radio work.
Kessler states that she wishes to ‘invest each word with meaning’ (a singer after my own heart), and does so straight from the off, with Walk On By, a soulful rendering in a clear pleasant voice, with muted brass and a sad guitar. After You’ve Gone is skilfully sung quite fast yet still managing to be full of pathos, with effective variations of the tune followed by a more hardboiled Why Don’t You Do Right.
The bleakest song on the CD is new to me, The Gal from Joe’s, which I gather is a song about a girl who has died, who must travel the ‘last mile all alone’. The rest of the CD gives us happier songs, such as Sunny; It’s A Wonderful World (not the Louis Armstrong Song); I Thought About You; The Frim Fram Sauce; Feeling Good; Moonglow. But there’s also, an original by Ms. Kessler My Empty Bed Blues, as well as Too Close for Comfort, this one is so well sung that it became quite sinister.  And she does right by her musicians as well (always a good idea!) as they have whole chorus solos, not just the snatches that some singers allow, and they are all well competent, especially the tricksy piano on Sunny and the happy Latin percussion on Feeling Good.
Lance has discussed whether there is ‘room’ for all these new singers.  I would say that there’s no end to talent, locally, nationally and worldwide, and if talent exists, then there’s room for it and it should be celebrated wherever it crops up. Many people would hate to be really famous, to be laid open to criticism on twitter and persecution by the media, along with the praise.
Anyway, before I jump on a soapbox, I should say that Do Right is available on the Ruby Street Music label, from  www.sarikessler.com
Ann Alex

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