CD REVIEW: Joyce Todd - Ashes and Bones
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT
Artist: Joyce Todd
Anyone ever see that Perry Mason episode about the jazz guy who's going to get married, and Constance Towers has a number in it, 'The Thrill Is Gone'? Well, Connie somehow was able to sing in between the notes, in between the keys. This is called quarter tone singing, and to the uninitiated, it will sound like a flat tire. Tain't so. It's a shock. It will uproot your method of madness and replace it with a whole other scale.
The 8 song events on Ashes aren't your typical jazz compositions. While Joyce eases her particularly velvet and sharpie voice over a wealth of original songs and 2 traditional adaptations, the combo all local Frisco Bay area boys take to the rhythms, guitars, organs and softly jam with the best of them.
'Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair' introduces us to a night time traditional adaptation, heavy emphasis on the adaptation. 'Blue is the music of my true love's tears / We weep for 27 years / We would leave the earth, but we are bound / from paradise, to love the ground / Black is the color of my true love's hair.'
Following that is one of the best, the 'Riptide' that glows with some lite bongos, drums, an electric and slide guitar, very tropical, very mood enhancing. 'I can see where we just don't belong / when I can't catch your eye / when the timing's all wrong / but I still want you here, by my side'.
'Love Is' equally takes you back to the 50s or early 60s, when jazz was just starting its stereo, when the woman in front had the gumption to take the tune, recompose it, and make it sing in quite a different way. Joyce brings that all back. It's been too long away. Perhaps she's not mainstream in the vocal dept., but considering her other releases are classical in origin (12th century women's troubadour songs, for instance), she's going for and gets! a wonderfully alternative sound. Alternative jazz. Alternative MUSIC.
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