Quote from review of blesSINGS in Jazz Inside Mag/March
By: Alex Henderson
Click image for full review
LOS ANGELES-BASED JAZZ HISTORIAN, EDUCATOR AND RECORD PRODUCER. VOTING MEMBER OF NARAS-GRAMMY, JAZZ JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION AND LOS ANGELES JAZZ SOCIETY. FOUNDER & CEO OF JAZZ STATION RECORDS (JSR), A DIVISION OF JAZZ STATION MARKETING & CONSULTING - LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Nora McCarthy & The People of Peace Quintet: "blesSINGS" (RedZen Records)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
Produced by Nora McCarthy
Arranged by Nora McCarthy & Jorge Sylvester
Recorded at Tedesco Studio in Paramus, New Jersey on August 26 & 27th, 2015
Recording & Mixing Engineer: Tom Tedesco
Mastered by Ivan Josepg Goldberg @ Miracle Mastering Studios, NJ
Artwork: Nora McCarthy
Photos: Angela Bruno
Featuring: Nora McCarthy (voice), Jorge Sylvester (alto sax), Pablo Vergara (piano), Donald Nicks (electric bass), Kenny Grohowski (drums)
"blesSINGS" is a modern post bop jazz record that combines several elements to make its powerfully beautiful statement: original compositions and lyrics; various applications of vocal and musical language, inventive improvisation and imaginative arrangements. Most of the tunes were written by Nora herself, but she also performs great versions of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing," Lucian Ban's "Night On Earth," Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris' "Nowhere Everafter" plus two by her partner in life & music, saxophone master Jorge Sylvester: "Akara Moi Moi" and "Nimbus."
The artistry on "blesSINGS" is stunning; the musicianship throughout is exquisite and the overall sound is reminiscent of the great creative jazz recordings of the ‘60s and ‘70s where the artists used their music as a conduit for spirituality and as a reaction to turbulent events that were taking place in the country, much like today: war, racism, civil unrest, terrorism, mass killings.
McCarthy’s highly expressive burnished alto voice soars on every track. Her broad range is full of lovely textures and nuances and her use of dynamics which is basically a lost art among singers today, is wrought with emotion. Her trademark phrasing and innate sense of rhythm demonstrates not only her expert ability to convey a story but her overall understanding of melodic and harmonic structure—she is a masterful musician. McCarthy uses her complete voice, as an instrument and as an interpreter of the word.
"If the listener has not heard Nora McCarthy before then blesSINGS is a great introduction to this mature singer who bestows passion and heartfelt humanity in large doses. Her tribute to Butch Morris is a cornerstone of all that is possible when one freely enters the magical world of music.
From the get-go, Nora's voice and lyrics are captivating. "Love Poem for the People" is a great kick-off. Fantastic arrangements. Her connection to life in all its manifestations and positive energies really sing through you on the entire album.
Her encouragement for the "Restless Mind" has such a beautiful dreamy quality that encourages minds to wander inside beauty is lovely. "The Blessing" is a really pure revelation. Terrific! A beautiful encouragement to look for and practice love in its many variations. Sylvester's sax is a gorgeous, uplifting alternative voice.
All the musicians make significant contributions to McCarthy's lush vocal deliveries. "Passion Dance" really conveys her joyously letting go. "Nowhere Ever After" is a purely, magical testament to Butch Morris. I can easily visualize being held in his sway as he elicits soulful expressions. Amazing how he could hold us all in hand; shaping us to pour forth our very best. Nora really rose to the occasion on this one.
Thank you Nora McCarthy and The People of Peace Quintet for transporting me to that listening space and for your magic." R.I. Sutherland-Cohen /www.jazzexpressions.org