Audio Mixer: Josh Ford.
Recording information: Sound Shop Studio, Macomb MI.
Photographers: Kyla Dorsey; Dino Mangano.
One of the brighter lights on the Detroit jazz scene, the Metro Jazz Voices reveal they're one of Michigan's best and most ambitious vocal ensembles on their second album, Wingin' It. Featuring vocalists Carl Cafagna (tenor), Meri Slaven (soprano and alto), Trish Shandor (soprano and alto), and Jordan Schug (baritone), the Metro Jazz Voices show off their stellar harmony skills on every track of this album, while the individual singers are consistently strong when they step to the fore. The Metro Jazz Voices aren't afraid to take on an eclectic repertoire, sounding sweet and assured on standards like "Smile" and "Fly Me to the Moon," confident and imaginative as they tackle the more complex frameworks of Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile" and Charlie Parker's "Drifting on a Reed," as cool as a breeze in springtime on a cappella numbers like "Little Jazz Bird," and working beautifully with the studio band on "Crazeology" (one of two numbers that features inspired guest solos from Richie Cole on sax). In addition to showing off solid vocal chops, Cafagna is a capable multi-instrumentalist, contributing flute, clarinet, saxophone, and percussion to the tracks (he also penned new lyrics for some of the classic melodies), while Schug is a fine cellist as well as a singer, and both men wrote arrangements for this album. If Slaven and Shandor stick to singing on Wingin' It, they do so beautifully, sounding especially rich on their lead vocal spots and showing a charming flair for scatting and vocalese. Featuring top-shelf accompaniment from some of Michigan's best jazz and instrumental players, and produced with imagination and clarity, Wingin' It is a superior effort that deserves a hearing from fans of vocal jazz, proving once again the human voice is one of the most pleasing instruments in the jazz ensemble. ~ Mark Deming