Monika Brand

Love: Maiden Album of New York Jazz Singer

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The New York-based Monika Brand debuts with a musical itinerary of her own compositions, all dealing with that most illusive topic -- love. While it's not likely her tunes will become entries in the Great American Popular Songbook, they have a toe-tapping, frothy rhythm about them. Also, what makes them different from compositions by many of her peers is that they do not all deal with the unrequited, unfulfilled, unappreciated, and unhappy aspects of the universal pastime. In fact, there's a bit of humor added here and there, such as on "Knock, Knock," a cheery tune which is also the agent for some cleverly contrived wordless vocalizing and call and response with the band. The mandatory Latin tune, an absolute must on today's musical recording scene, is here; again, Brand's entry is ear-caching. "Wild Dreams" has Brand changing pace throughout, again treating the listener to some unusual sound patterns engendered by her scatting punctuating a wild, dissonant coda. Brand has the singer's requisite tools. She stays on key, pronounces lyrics so they can be understood, applies a variety of emotions without overdoing it, and generally has a very pleasant, slightly nasal vocal way about her. Pianist Larry Ham's arrangements are charted to form a mutually advantageous arrangement between singer and instrumentalists. And there are some fine representatives of the latter here with Brand. Dan Block takes turns on reeds and flute; his clarinet and tenor are especially notable on the sardonic "Greed, Self-Worship, and Love," where love wins. The open and muted horns of Richard Vitale are also a major contributor. The rhythm section does what rhythm sections are supposed to do, and they do it well. This auspicious CD opener of contemporary jazz vocals is recommended.

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