ABC Jazz 475 9263
Reviewed by Gavin Franklin, December 1st, 2015
All four members of this ensemble have earned a great many individual accolades for their work in Australian jazz. They are undoubtedly recognized as fine performers in their respective fields.
The opening title track, Where or When is a highlight. A brief guitar introduction leads into the head statement with Berardi’s well-modulated voice accompanied by lovely guitar chords in the A section. Anning joins in on bass during the bridge, after which Wilson launches into a saxophone solo on the form. Following a tasteful guitar solo, Berardi comes back to sing it out to the close. It is predictable, but provides pleasant listening. It is also the most up-tempo track on the album.
The second track, titled Lucky 13 because the recording was done on 13th of September, 2014, is a wordless vocal number followed by some noodling solos by Wilson. Its chord structure is very similar to Bill Evans’s well-known Peace Piece. Lucky 13 lacks the inspirational improvisation of its model.
The much-recorded Suzanne by Leonard Cohen is next. It is a sensitive reading of the song. The fourth track is Born to be Blue, in which Berardi manages to bend almost every note. It is followed by Brad, a Latin tune with another of the singer’s wordless vocals.
The restraint continues in Unity Village, the band’s take on a Pat Metheny number. It is another highlight as Berardi provides lyrics for this lovely tune and a vocalise on the solo. There is also some gorgeous accompanying by Sherlock and Newcomb. Track seven is Cool Baby in which there is a number of short solos by the various members of the group and more wordless vocals mark Limbo, the aptly titled eighth track.
There is something catchy about the hook in the second last song, Is It OK For Clowns to Cry?. Repeating a hook too often can detract from its charm. Newcomb plays a very tasteful solo but otherwise it is not particularly special.
Young at Heart is a song that was originally written for Sinatra and featured in the 1954 film of the same name that starred Sinatra and Doris Day. It is a much-recorded song and Berardi has added her name to a long list of its performers.
I wish to declare my enthusiasm for Kristin Berardi’s vocal work to this point. It therefore troubles me that I was somewhat underwhelmed by this offering.
Perhaps it is the lack of a drummer in the accompaniment, or maybe Ms Berardi has just decided to record material with predominantly low energy levels, but the prevailing atmosphere is decidedly on the side of ‘laid back’. I found myself craving another tune that swung in a faster tempo than many of those on this recording. There are flashes of brilliance on the CD but they are not frequent enough.