Pastiche

Pastiche

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Over the years, jazz has seen its share of talented vocal groups --New York Voices, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Andy Bey & the Bey Sisters, and Beachfront Property are among the names that immediately come to mind. All of those groups had two-gender formats, and rarely do you find a jazz-oriented vocal outfit with an all-female lineup; Pastiche is such a rarity. Consisting of singers Jenny Meltzer, Sandy Cressman, and Becky West, the female trio brings a jazz foundation to this self-titled debut album. But having a jazz foundation doesn't necessarily mean being a jazz purist or a jazz snob, and Pastiche is an appropriate name for the Bay Area threesome because Meltzer, Cressman, and West obviously have a variety of influences -- not only jazz vocal outfits like Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and New York Voices, but also everything from soul and pop to Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and Caribbean music. Stevie Wonder has influenced some of the writing, and so has the Manhattan Transfer. In fact, the Manhattan Transfer is a valid comparison because, like that well-known group, Pastiche thrives on versatility and insists on keeping its options open. Some of the tunes on this CD are more jazz-oriented than others, and it is obvious that Pastiche has no desire to confine itself to a bop ghetto. Nor does Pastiche insist on inundating listeners with overdone standards that they have heard time and time again; though the CD contains interesting arrangements of "You Hit the Spot" and the Beatles' "Blackbird," original material is dominant. And, more often than not, the writing is memorable on this eclectic and fairly promising debut.

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