Album Remarks & Appraisals:
New York Voices - one of the premier jazz vocal groups at work today - team with Germany's acclaimed WDR Big Band Cologne for the vocal ensemble's first full live album and first release from Palmetto Records.
Helping to mark the group's 25th anniversary, New York Voices Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne presents new material and vintage favorites in richly colored big-band arrangements by lauded veteran Michael Abene. The live album resulted from a 2008 concert in Cologne, Germany, that was recorded as part of 20th-anniversary touring by the vocal quartet of Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader and Peter Eldridge.
Familiar material and Lerner & Loew's Brigadoon gem, "Almost Like Being In Love" sound fresh. It's the unexpected that makes things dynamic. A certain highlight is the finger-snapping, jazzy rendition of "Darn That Dream". Jens Neufang weaves an agile bass clarinet against the muscular arrangement, followed by Darmon Meader in an impressive display of scat singing. The inclusion of John Marshall on trumpet punctuates the jam with crispness. Throughout the performance, the overall chemistry is palpable and never ordinary.
The togetherness of this vocal quartet is clear in every track of this superb album, which consists of jazz standards and a couple of compositions by members of the group. There are also adventurous interpretations of what might be regarded as pop songs, including two items by Paul Simon (Baby Driver and I Do It for Your Love).
New York Voices have polished their vocal mixture into a seamless blend, while the individual members of the group can readily take solos. They deliver songs with feeling and conviction. In Oliver Nelson's wonderful Stolen Moments, they provide backing harmonies to instrumental solos. In Love Me or Leave Me, Lauren Kinhan swaps scatted fours with trumpeter Andy Haderer. And In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning includes a magical rallentando and diminuendo between a long introduction and the melody.
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning also illustrates the precision of the WDR Band and the way that it blends with the vocalists. Perhaps the highlight of the album is Almost Like Being in Love, which New York Voices perform a cappella. I also love their version of Stolen Moments. In fact I am happy with every track on this album: 75 minutes of bliss!
Recording information: Kölner Philharmonie, Köln, Germany (05/17/2008).
Editor: Tobias Kiendl.