Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Koorax on "The Jazz Singers - The Ultimate Guide"

Ithamara Koorax is included as one of the world's best jazz singers ever on "The Jazz Singers - The Ultimate Guide" (Backbeat Books), the new best-selling book by renowned jazz critic and historian Scott Yanow, who has written for virtually all of the significant jazz magazines, including DownBeat, JazzTimes, Coda, Cadence, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and is also a major contributor to the All Music Guide to Jazz. It is estimated that he has reviewed more jazz CDs than anyone in history. "The Jazz Singers" is his tenth book.

Excerpts from Koorax's entry on the book:
"A versatile singer from Brazil, Ithamara Koorax has sung straight-ahead jazz, conventional bossa novas and interesting mixture of style, all with enthusiasm and strong musicianship... She had success with her first solo recording, Iluminada, in 1990. Soon she was touring Japan regularly, where her records became best-sellers, including Ithamara Koorax Sings The Luiz Bonfa Songbook in 1996...In addition, her acid jazz version of The Frog became a dance hit in Europe in 1994 and she recorded the groundbreaking album Bossa Nova Meets Drum 'N' Bass. But it was her Milestone CDs, Serenade in Blue and Love Dance: The Ballad Album, that helped establish her name in the United States.
Serenade in Blue (Milestone 9301), Love Dance (Milestone 9327) and her first acoustic straight-ahead jazz trio album Autumn In New York (EMI 0473) have given her an excellent reputation in the United States. Her most recent release is the world music-oriented Brazilian Butterfly (JSR 60509)."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Obrigado Dom Um Romão" - Cadence review

"Cadence" magazine (USA)
Vol. 35, No. 4-5-6
April-May-June 2009, pages 161-162

Peter Scharli with Ithamara Koorax:
"Obrigado Dom Um Romao" (TCB 27702)
Review by David Dupont

One of the virtues of "Obrigado Dom Um Romao," the best of these sessions, is the willingness of the principals to push beyond that sense of equanimity. And that's surprising because though the session pays tribute to the late Brazilian percussionist, the ensemble of trumpet-bass-guitar trio with vocalist Ithamara Koorax lacks percussion.

That trio format usually inspires lyrical flights, but trumpeter Peter Scharli will not be so constrained. He's not afraid to turn on the brass as witnessed by his blistering conclusion to "Manha de Carnaval." Thanks to an old recording Romao gave Scharli, the honoree does appear here, playing lively berimbau over which the trumpeter blows a lusty version of the Bonfa standard.

He lets loose as well in the band's cover of "Love for Sale." The A section of the Cole Porter classic is delivered by Koorax over a vamp with the bridge bursting forward in Swing time. Scharli's solo, though, boils over the vamp as he builds the tension pushing the harmonic limits more and more until Koorax reenters on the bridge, again with Swing. The track ends with a long tag that has the singer and the trumpeter cooing and sighing and moaning in duet.

"Love for Sale" is a sensual tour de force for Koorax, showing the kaleidoscope of colors she can elicit from her voice. At one point she builds to an upper register wail, only to drop two octaves to complete the phrase.

The format lets the clarity and color of her voice shine through with little distraction. Guitarist Markus Stadler and bassist Thomas Durst set an evocative, vibrant nest of sound. Given the exuberant work of Scharli and Koorax it'd be easy to overlook the quieter, yet still intriguing work of the guitarist. His solo on "Two and One" employs sequences that balance a sense of order with a sense of the unexpected. It adds yet another level of enjoyment to a fine session.