I haven’t mentioned how much my old web hosting company, GoDaddy disappointed me. I left the country for a couple of weeks, and came home to find the website down, messed up beyond (apparently) any hope of repair. An hour with GoDaddy’s usually helpful support left me with no files.
Yeah, I know. Backup. That’s on me.
New host, now. The site was due for a refurb, anyway – and I’ve been ready to take it in a new direction for sometime.
Stay tuned. Thanks for checking. Don’t go too far away for too long.
Szandra Szoke Quintet –
Released – March, 2015
It takes a certain boldness to – in the space of just over a year – begin a new musical endeavor, and to populate the debut album with all original music. That’s what Szandra Szoke has done with this first outing, and the result is a solid set of very personal lyrics and music.
Interestingly, seven of the nine tracks are in English. “Writing in English comes more naturally in this period of my life,” Ms. Szoke writes, “…than writing in Hungarian. It also helps that I am a great fan of the language. Singing in English as a Hungarian allows me to be extremely personal and somewhat protective of my deepest self at the same time.”
The liner notes call it a “…delicate, daydreaming, curious kind of music,” and indeed – this material is much more than three verses and a bridge. Ms. Szoke’s intense alto is in command of her lyrics – whether challenging (“Wool“), or wistful (“Memory Palace“). Those are two of my favorites from this album. Another is “Whitewater,” a track that reminds me very much of the stereotypical sixties jazz/poetry performances. Those three were added to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com.
And if it’s a bold outing, Ms. Szoke says she feels as if she has plenty of support. “…I feel like being on a playground, everyone around me is highly skilled and extremely creative, it feels like I can do anything, because I can be sure they are there to catch me if I fall.”
That backing group includes Gabor Cseke on piano, Istvan Fekete on trumpet, Peter Olah on bass, and Cszba Pusztai on drums. Does so intensely personal music defy commercial success?
Let’s hope not. I’ll look for more from Ms. Szoke and her group. This disc is recommended.
Jamila Ford – The Deep End
(Skinny Chick Records)
Released – September 9, 2014
Jamila Ford has backed names like Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) and Melody Gardot; she gets her turn front and center on this five track EP.
Not wasted. Confident and powerful, Ms. Ford motors through four off-the-beaten-track jazz standards, and one of her originals, “Silencio.” That’s the one that got my attention, standing up alongside the standards, but…well, original.
As my kid, the musician, says, “Anyone can do a decent cover. Do you have the chops to make something original stand out?”
The whole album is worthy of a five-spot. My favorites include “All Blues,” the opener, along with “Gentle Rain.”
And “Silencio.” All three added to the playlist at 62ndStreet.com.
But buy the whole thing.