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BWW CD Review: Kirsten Gustafson WAIT UNTIL DARK Was Well Worth The Wait

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BWW CD Review: Kirsten Gustafson WAIT UNTIL DARK Was Well Worth The WaitIn 1992 Kirsten Gustafson recorded an album titled "You Taught My Heart To Sing" and music lovers sat up and took notice. Critics praised the cd and jazz aficionados memorized her name, and though this consummate artist has continued to sing in venues around the world, there came no second commercial release. There is tell of a privately issued CD titled "Live At Montreux" but online searches turn up nothing; is it a rumor, a fable, a myth? This writer does not know. What can, definitively, be said is that the album WAIT UNTIL DARK brings Kirsten Gustafson happily, blissfully, thankfully back into the recording studio. One hopes the lady herself is happy, blissful, and thankful, but fans of the lady and fans of great jazz will certainly feel all those things and more.

Wait Until Dark gives the listener a chance to discover just what it is that makes Kirsten Gustafson special, as she takes them on a ride through many different musical genres, translating those styles into the jazz treatments for which she is known and revered. Admirers of artists ranging from Dusty Springfield to Led Zeppelin, from Julie London to Emerson, Lake & Palmer will be excited to dive into Gustafson's CD to discover what unexplored territory she and orchestral arranger Curtis Allen Hager have found in their recordings of "The Rain Song" and "From The Beginning" - spoiler alert, these tracks (tracks that feature famed guitarist Fareed Haque) are among the best on a CD rich with surprises and originality. Listening to this "From The Beginning" is akin to being on some musical hallucinogenic trip, which need surprise nobody. From the moment Ms. Gustafson starts the album you know she isn't messing around: an acapella "A Song For You" that segues into a sultry, personal, enigmatic "The Rain Song" that intoxicates with warmth and wiles and vocalises that catch the breath is proof positive that Kristen Gustafson is here to do things her way, like some musical pied piper, sent to take you to heaven with breathtaking phrasing lustrous and languid. Try as one may to resist, Gustafson will not be denied - follow, one must, especially when being led by the pulsating, driving, laid-back, torrid force of "Midnight Sun" or the cheeky bounce of "Hot Toddy" that harkens back to the jazz vocalise pieces of The Swingin' Sixties. Kirsten Gustafson is clearly a woman of facets whose numbers match those of her musical tastes.

Through the combined efforts of some of the jazz industry's best musicians, the vision of producer Richard Knight Jr., and Mr. Hager's sensational arrangements, Ms. Gustafson is given the freedom to focus on her impressive musical vocabulary and the winding roads of emotional travel born out of her skill. Here is a jazz singer who sings like a rock singer; if this were a live performance, there would be every possibility that a guitar might be smashed at some point. On a CD that includes a rarely-heard tune by Henry Mancini and a brand-new composition by producer Knight, it would be difficult to single out a favorite, but this writer felt a special connection to an almost defiant new spin on "The Look Of Love." This is an album right out of the past, from the days when one turned on the record and let it play to the very end, It's savvy and sophisticated, down-to-earth and dirty, and somewhere in between the refreshingly stirring treatment given to "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and the hypnotic heat of "Horse With No Name" Ms. Gustafson's incomparable vocal prowess weaves a wicked spell that will leave listeners sad, maybe even a little mad, that there haven't been more recordings over the years, and hoping that the next one won't take another 27.

Kirsten Gustafson Wait Until Dark will be available June 30th, for streaming purchases on iTunes and on all digital outlets.

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From This Author Stephen Mosher