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Bebop Spoken There

Val Wilmer: "The festival [New York Musicians Festival], an impressive exercise in African-American self-reliance, had come about after the promoter George Wein had moved his annual Newport Jazz Festival to New York the previous year [1972], and paid scant attention to the avant garde." - (Wire June 2020)

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, October 18, 2019

CD Review: Brenda Earle Stokes - Solo Sessions Volume 1

Brenda Earle Stokes (piano/voice).
(Review by Lance)

An interesting mix of standards, contemporary songs and originals by a Canadian singer/pianist now based in NYC. Stokes is very much her own (wo)man and stamps her individuality on both her singing and her piano playing. If anyone springs to mind vocally, or as a composer, it is Carole King although, obviously, Brenda is jazzier.

Ladies in Mercedes, the Sondheim classic with words by Norma Winstone, shows Stokes at her best. A knockout piano solo - all done without the safety net of bass and drums and coupled with a vocal where restraint is at a minimum - well worth checking out.

If You Never Come to me is unmistakably Jobim and sympathetically interpreted.

Over the past few years, Weaver of Dreams has reemerged in popularity with songbook songbirds and Stokes does nothing to slow down the momentum.

How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone? Brenda Earle Stokes and Leroy Carr is as unlikely a pairing as the Devil and Robert Johnson down at that crossroads in Leflore County, Mississippi, but at least we have the evidence of this one with some fine blues piano and a voice to match.

Strange Meadowlark floats like a bird in the breeze with a gentle swing that conveys the composer's image perfectly.  The piano does justice to Dave Brubeck's melody and Brenda's voice handles Iola Brubeck's words imaginatively.

Brenda supplied the words to The Waltz, an interesting tune with some demanding intervals for a singer that our girl handles with aplomb.

Standing is total Stokes - words and music composed, arranged, produced, played and sung by. Maybe she also made the coffee. If she percolates like she sings and plays then forget Kopi luwak!*

The Consequences of Falling, a tune associated with k.d.lang, didn't quite do it for me but, then again, neither did k.d.'s version.

I Can Let Go Now by Michael McDonald tugs at the heartstrings - Brenda in sensitive mode.

East of the Sun includes some boppy scatting with an abundance of flattened fifths by both voice and piano - love it.

Huey Lewis' The Power of Love is another number that showcases her versatility across the genres.

Solo Sessions Volume 1, grew upon me with repeated hearing. Initially I wasn't comfortable with the diversity of the material but gradually I came to like it a lot and now I love it!
Lance
Available November 15.
* Reportedly the world's most expensive coffee.

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