"NORTHERN STAR: THE SINGAPORE SESSIONS" AMANDAH JANTZEN STARFIRE * * * * *
When Amandah Jantzen steps up to the microphone, she doesn't just sing, she communicates.
On "The Night We Called It a Day," her lyric paints a portrait of a breakup and gives the listener a front row seat as she colors each detail. Despite the vividness of her description, there is a deep sense of honest emotion.
She dovetails "All or Nothing at All" with "Stolen Moments" for a great medley with some neat scatting on the latter tune. The title "Northern Star" is heavy with symbolism. Written by Alice Peacock, the tune is all about friendship, love and a deeper meaning of each. Again, Jantzen seemingly is singing about one of her own relationships.
She has been touring Asia for many months. It's about time she comes home to Portland and blesses the home folks.
"THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU" NAT KING COLE COLLECTOR'S CHOICE
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The voice of Nat King Cole and five stars are an automatic assumption and certainly that's the case with this release.
Backed by the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra, Cole enchants the listener with 18 tracks from some of his best known works. They include: "But Beautiful," "For All We Know," "Don't Blame Me," "There's No Greater Love," "Impossible," "This Is All I Ask," and more.
It's Nat Cole, what else can I say?
"SAMBATROPOLIS" HENDRIK MEURKENS ZOHO
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Hendrik Meurkens, known primarily as a harmonica player, surprises us all with his mastery of the vibes.
Turns out vibes was his first choice growing up in Hamburg, Germany after hearing Lionel Hampton on a Benny Goodman album. Here, he is heard on vibes on five of the 11 tracks. He is a most welcome addition to the rapidly thinning ranks of really good vibraphonists. He gets a big assist from tenorist Jed Levy on "You Don't Know What Love Is."
His own composition, "Ocean Lights" gets an unusual treatment in part by blending his harmonica with flute and the use of the two tenors of Levy and Rodrigo Ursaia. It's truly elegant music.
"FUTURE DAY" DAVID FINCK QUARTET SOUND BRUSH
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I was hooked from the first few notes of the first cut. "I Know," a gentle loping ballad by Tom Ranier placed vibist Joe Locke in the solo spotlight with leader-bassist David Finck setting the pulse rate from in back.
On "Four Flags," a hard bop excursion, special guests; trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard join in for an all too brief exercise.
Buried on track eight is perhaps the prettiest version of the grand old ballad "For All We Know." Locke is insightful with his interpretation and make this all that it is. Some may not be familiar with Finck or his work. He is no neophyte. He worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Mark Murphy, Gladys Knight and Tony Bennett. Fortunately, he is not a bassist-leader who feels the need to dominate. He knows and understands the role of the bass. He is also a competent if not brilliant soloist.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on 89.1 KMHD FM. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.