Cristina Morrison Brings I LOVE to Somethin' Jazz Club, 10/25
Cristina Morrison brings songs from her new CD I LOVE, The Jazz Beat of Galapagos to Somethin' Jazz Club (212 E. 52nd St. 3Fl. NYC) on Thurs., Oct 25 at 9 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended. Tickets are $20.
Cristina Morrison: Lyrics & vocals
Misha Piatigorsky: piano
Marcus Mc Laurine: Bass
Willar Dyson: drums
Peter Brainin: Sax
For more about Morrison, visit www.cristinamorrisonilove.com.
The debut solo jazz effort from singer/songwriter Cristina Morrison, I Love, introduces one of the most distinctively original vocal artists on the scene today. An accomplished actress, a graduate of the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Ms. Morison’s talent has been hailed as “chameleonic and versatile ” and she brings these same qualities to her music on an album that melds jazz, blues, folk and pop sensibilities of the U.S. with samba, bossa nova and other South American influences, in a unique mélange that is all her own. Born of mixed American and Ecuadorian parentage in Miami, Morrison has resided in Rome, Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Los Angeles and now New York City, resulting in a multicultural world view that is reflected in her music, which is informed by her myriad life experiences and keen observations into the nature of the human character.
Joining Morrison is a roster of first class New York Players, headed by the singer’s “partner in crime” saxophonist/composer Christian Hidrobo, a longtime colleague from her jazz band The Baroness & Her Lovers, who contributed the appealing melodies that accompany the singer’s own engaging lyrics, which are utterly cinematic in their vivid imagery. Accompanied by pianist Steve Einerson, bassists Marcus McLaurine (acoustic) and Alex Alvear (electric), drummer Willard Dyson and percussionist Sammy Torres in the stellar rhythm section, with saxist Hidrobo, trumpeter Walter Szymanski, guitarist Vinny Valentino and harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret supplying multihued backgrounds and compelling solos, Morrison embarks on an episodic musical journey that runs the gamut of emotions, joyous, sorrowful, exuberant and meditative. Pristinely recorded, the nine songs on I Love reach out and touch listeners’ minds, hearts and souls with messages that are simultaneously personal and universal.
The disc opens dramatically with Summer In New York, Szymanski blowing ominous muted trumpet over McLaurine’s slow bass ostinato conjuring nocturnal images of the city hearkened to in Morrison’s singing of her lyric, which begins “Corners, streets and alleys meet” and goes on to speak of “Lust and sex and human heat.” Vulnerability slowly swells to strength in Crisitina’s intoning of her story as the music moves from bluesy melancholy to joyous swing, propelled by Valentino’s soulful guitar on the spirited bridge that celebrates “Summer In New York/Summer’s sexy breeze/ Dancing on the river.” Einerson solos straight ahead over walking bass and riding cymbals before the singer slows the mood to take things out with a plaintive plea to “Make my lonely nights seem right.”
The soulful alto saxophone of Christian Hidrobo, reminiscent of David Sanborn’s Saturday Night Live days, introduces Fifteen Day Affair, recently written by Morrison in Galapagos after a shipwreck during a chilly winded winter night. Hidrobo’s powerfully cadenced melody calls to mind Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman and Cristina sings with appropriate power. Gregoire Maret’s stirring harmonica solo contributes mightily to the mood of the piece, which concludes with an achingly beautiful sax statement by Hidrobo.
Einerson’s piano intro to Morrison and Hidrobo’s I Love, the date’s title track, sets the mood that evokes the sound and style of a standard from the Great American Songbook and Cristina sings and swings in the tradition as she recites a lengthy list of her many favorite things – including, to dance, to sing … to jam and drink all night …the wisdom in an old man eyes, and then most emphatically, “making love to you.” She rides along the with the trio’s pulsating rhythm, affecting various tones that rise to the song’s surprise ending.
Stand Still, begins rather deceptively with Maret’s somewhat melancholy harmonica played over a slow bass triplet reminiscent of A Love Supreme, before the band seamlessly segues into a swinging samba. Cristina breezes along brightly, singing her unabashedly romantic lyric that proclaims, “Dare to tell me/ that we’re not meant to be/in a state of love,” buoyed by the band’s vivacious rhythms and Maret’s virtuoso soloing.
Morrison returns What A Difference A Day Makes to its roots, singing the Stanley Adams English lyric to Mexican composer María Grever’s well known melody, titled Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado, in its original bolero form. The singer’s own Latin heritage is evident in her mastery of the slow South American rhythm. Navijio Cevallos’ harp like requinto solo accentuates the authentic feel set by Sammy Torres’ bongo.
Red Mafia & Jassis adapted from something Morrison first wrote after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. The raucous outing features Szymanski’s roaring Memphis Horns styled brass arrangement screaming over the electric piano powered rhythm section with Cristina paying homage to the Crescent City’s “Creoles, cotton and swamps/And the smell of sex.” Valentino rocks out with an electrifying guitar solo and Alex Harding joins the fray with a boisterous baritone sax statement that forcefully adds to the excitement.
Szymanski opens East of the Sun with an ascendant trumpet cadenza over a legato underpinning that slyly glides into a bossa rhythm as Cristina enters singing the popular lyric in a seductively sultry tone. Szymanski returns with a clarion open belled solo and melodiously supportive obbligati that prove him to be truly lyrical master of his horn, as Morrison navigates the lyrics with an understated rhythmic force that displays a confident mastery of her own instrument.
Perfect Little Stormsis Morrison’s touching dedication to her two young sons, Alex and Joaquin. Her words are elegiac in their simple beauty, while her vocalizing, ably accompanied by Einerson’s piano, demonstrates the rare talent to make poetry out of prose. Hidrobo’s alto also rises to emotional heights, with a poignant coda fitting for the song’s subject matter of maternal love.
Morrison brings it all back home to close with Billie Holiday’s Fine and Mellow. Singing the first chorus over McLaurine’s solitary slow walking bass, she exudes a powerful tone that can easily stand alone. Szymanski answers her call with understated muted trumpet retorts before the ensemble joins the pair, digging deep into the bluesy groove. Valentino has once last say with a down home guitar solo, before Cristina takes things out with the archetypal reminder “Love is like the faucet, it turns off and on/Sometimes when you think it’s on baby, it’s turned off and gone.”
A bonus video track The Making Of I Love offers an intimate look at Cristina Morrison and her colleagues at work in the studio. The spirit of camaraderie that is heard so clearly in the music is seen close up as the singer and her musicians collaborate to make the music come alive. She confesses to the camera, “Singing is more an instinct to me. It’s more personal. It’s more intimate of who Cristina Morrison is. I want to write what I think and what I feel and what inspires me. I just write it as it is.” What it is, to Cristina Morrison, are many things from many places. Her music takes the listener on a magical journey as she shares the world of wonderful experiences that have made her the insightful singer who she is today. One who sings her life and loves doing it.
I Love Features: Cristina Morrison: lyrics & vocals, Christian Hidrobo- composer, arranger, and alto saxophone, Walter Szymanski- trumpet, Steve Einerson- piano, Marcus McLaurine- upright bass, Alex Alvear- electric bass, Willard Dyson- drums, Gregoire Maret- harmonica, Sammy Torres- percussion, Vinny Valentino- guitar, Alex Harding- baritone saxophone
(Baronesa Records). Street Date May 1, 2012.