Lisa Sokolov

A Quiet Thing

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From the early days when she was an unabashed creative improvising vocalist through times singing straight-ahead jazz standards, Lisa Sokolov has retained the charm of a wanderer and the soul of a sophisticate. A Quiet Thing is a reflective title in that there's a low-key approach to her singing here, with solo, duo, and occasional small-ensemble backing. Within somewhat muted tones, she's able to get her message across with an edge and fortitude that are generated from her three decades of languishing in obscurity but still determined enough to vocalize in her own personalized way. Sokolov's voice is at times raspy but still endearing, and she accompanies herself on piano adeptly. Her take of "My One and Only Love" is a deep modal version, accented with challenging wordless vocals, a diffuse interpretation only she could conjure. "You Go to My Head" perfectly echoes the lyric line about "a haunting refrain," her overwrought "Ol' Man River" approaches grinch proportions in interpretive imagery, and she scats a bit for the very slow "Walk in Beauty," picking up the pace with an animated drawl. John Di Martino, the truly brilliant pianist, is in for two tunes, while electric bassist Kermit Driscoll, cellist Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez, and violinist Todd Reynolds receive cameos. The proceedings really get going when bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Gerry Hemingway join the fray, as on "Succotash," where her quirky and elusive side slithers through clockwork rhythms. Di Martino is sullen on the spoken "Dream Haiku," about a green-light lady, but the most unusual tune, Ashford & Simpson's "You're All I Need to Get By," a big hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, is treated in a lighter funk, with Driscoll's electric bass keeping the beat and organ heightening the soul factor while Sokolov acts like Aretha Franklin. The insular nature of Sokolov's mostly solo or duo presentations is heightened by the four tracks that were done in live performance. Overall, the intimacy of this music is starkly contrasted by Sokolov's still unusual vocal style that keeps her presentation interesting and full of intrigue.

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