SONGS MY MOTHER LOVES
Dee Alexander – Vocals
Miguel Delacerna – Piano
Harrison Bankhead – Bass
Yuseff Ernie Adams – Drums & percussion
Tomeka Reid – Cello (track 10)
Scott Hesse – Guitar (tracks 8,9)
Junius Paul – Bass (tracks 8,10)
Ari Brown – Tenor saxophone (tracks 2,7)
Oliver Lake – Alto saxophone (tracks 1,5)
Corey Wilkes – Trumpet (track 6)
Chicago vocalist Dee Alexander is an adventurous traditionalist. She reinterprets standards with an innovative touch that avoids deconstructing them yet engulfs them in her sophisticated individuality. Her tribute to her mother, Songs My Mother Loves, showcases her unique talents and offers guest spots to a number of stalwarts of the genre. Abbey Lincoln’s “Lonesome Lover” for instance, matches Alexander’s supple, elegant singing with alto saxophonist Oliver Lake’s serpentine lines.
Her haunting vocals echo Lake’s restrained yet raw wail. Ari Brown, another saxophone master, uses his gritty and thick tenor to underscore the sensuality of Alexander’s articulation on Billy Holiday’s emotive “Now or Never.” The tune features her impeccable scatting that Brown punctuates with bluesy honks. Alexander’s inventive spontaneity also marks the classic “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise.” Her soaring vocals over pianist Miguel Delacerna’s intricately improvised phrases endow the song with a spiritual quality. Delacerna’s softly cascading notes accompany the dramatic rendition of Nancy Wilson’s “Guess Who I Saw Today.” The wistful ballad of betrayed love is reimagined with almost an operatic flair.
Dinah Washington’s “What a Difference A Day Makes” is another duet this time with soulful guitarist Scott Hesse. Hesse supports Alexander’s hypnotic, cool delivery with his resonant, flowing melody.
Alexander’s versatility as a performer is poignantly highlighted on her two takes of “Perdido.” On the Latin version, her lithe and lilting voice rises and falls over Delacerna’s percussive chords and drummer Yuseff Ernie Adams’s percolating beats. The faster, boppish reading pairs Adams’s furious polyrhythms with bassist Harrison Bankhead’s articulate strings. Another bass player, Junius Paul, brings his signature approach to the song “Soul Serenade.” Cellist Tomeka Reid augments the rhythm section that simmers behind Alexander’s ardently undulating intonations. Her understated passion is demonstrated on the cinematic “Nature Boy.” Trumpeter Corey Wilkes’ lyrical solo underscores the intriguing ambience.
With this captivating record, Alexander proves herself, yet again, to be one of the most exciting jazz singers working today. She also displays her superb leadership skills as she manages a rotating cast of superlative musicians from diverse backgrounds.
By: Hrayr Attarian