the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: CD Review: “The Growing Season” by Rebecca Martin

Friday, November 07, 2008

CD Review: “The Growing Season” by Rebecca Martin

My Very First CD Review Ever: “The Growing Season” by Rebecca Martin

Sometimes we arrive at places we never meant to visit, like the time I was on the subway in Toronto and decided to get off one stop early. I walked the rest of the way, passing unknown shops and unfamiliar landscapes as I navigated my way home over the next thirty minutes. Something similar happened in the way I arrived at the point of reviewing The Growing Season by Rebecca Martin, and the experience has proven to be just as interesting and rewarding. So here goes my very first CD review ever.

For The Growing Season, Rebecca Martin has brought together some fantastic musicians. The personnel includes drummer Brian Blade, bassist Larry Grenadier, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel (also heard here playing piano, Fender Rhodes and vibraphone), and Rebecca Martin herself on Vocals and Acoustic Guitar. The easy flow in the music shows that on this project these musicians are very comfortable with each other. Coinciding with the release of this CD, the same ensemble appeared with her for a week at the Village Vanguard in August 2008.

The twelve songs are all originals written by Rebecca Martin. The first track, “The Space in a Song to Think”, sets the pace for the CD with its introspective and personal lyrics. I enjoyed the positive message. As the first track a declaration is offered in the lyrics: “Let this be learning, that we’re all allowed to take what we need and to give what is needed”. The feel on this track is upbeat but relaxed, with much credit going to Brian Blade for his tasty accompanying. The second piece “A Million Miles” could very well be a modern standard, and may, in time, become one. The lyrics and melody are expertly crafted, and as a performing musician I’m quite interested in taking a closer look at the chord changes for this beautiful ballad-like composition.

The remainder of this CD is equally as enjoyable. Every track tells a different story, and each one has a unique feel and sound, yet it all fits together very nicely. From the flowing 3/4 (jazz-waltz) feel and self affirming message of “To Prove Them Wrong” to the pulsing beat and darker subject matter in “After Midnight”, this CD – her eighth release - is an enjoyable way for one to discover this artist’s work.

One needs to listen to a few tracks of this music to know what the “sound” is. I could use a few descriptive genre words around, such as “jazz-pop”, or “mellow acoustic vocal folk-jazz”, but those empty descriptions will only serve to categorize a piece of personal art, doing a disservice to the prospective listener by placing Rebecca’s masterful creation in a box meant to make consumption easier. My point is that it’s worth a quick visit to her website to hear a few excerpts of tracks prior to deciding whether or not her “genre” fits with one’s own personal preferences.

When this disc fell through my mail slot I confess that I was feeling indifferent towards the idea of reviewing it. The promoter asked me to review it... I'm still not sure why they asked me. I popped it into my player and passively listened to a couple of tracks while I shuffled about my house, until the unexpected yet comfortable mix of familiar sounds and unique harmonies had me sitting by my speakers reading the lyrics and liner notes. Having only recently rediscovered the joys of buying CDs, this experience inspires me to recommend venturing out to your local record shop to purchase an album… maybe an act to be undertaken without first knowing which CD you’re going to take home, or which route you’re going to take to get there.

In the same way that the 2003 release Alegria by Wayne Shorter made its way from the record shop on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton to the top of my frequently played lists via one of my meandering afternoon walks, this release has caught me by surprise. Interestingly, Brian Blade plays on both recordings. I wasn’t too keen on highly arranged orchestral jazz prior to hearing Alegria. Similarly, I would likely have never purchased The Growing Season, considering that it is listed under “soft jazz vocals”, whereas I’m normally looking for 1960’s Hard Bop. Both CDs have been a learning experience that has opened up my ears to a wider spread of music.

Thank goodness for unintended visits to unexpected landscapes, and soundscapes.


1 comment:

Digirammy said...

I am doing my part to spread the word for Gordin Goodwin. My friends little brother had me listen to 1 of his songs because they played it in the Jazz Group at school and wow! It is available for free download here, just click away and you can hear for yourself.