Audiences Will Find Dee Bell’s New Compilation Record Worth Experiencing At Least Once

Courtesy: Laser Records

More than three years after the release of her then latest album, Lins, Lennox, & Life, independent jazz singer Dee Bell has returned with a new presentation.  Bell released her new record, a compilation set titled Love For Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now, Jan. 3 through Laser Records.  The 10-song record originally started out as a two-song tribute to Abbey Lincoln and Al Dubin according to information in the collection’s brief liner notes, but grew into a full look back on part of her career as things progressed.  The liner notes do not explain how that happened, but that Is beside the point.  The songs featured in the collection are themselves the most important aspect of the compilation and will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ production is of its own importance and will be examined a little later.  Their sequencing rounds out the compilation’s most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now a good introduction to Bell and her body of work for some and an equally welcome retrospective for others.

Dee Bell’s new compilation record, Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is a presentation that most audiences will find interesting.  The record’s interest comes in large part through its featured songs.  Eight of the record’s 10 total songs are originals from Bell while the two opening numbers – ‘I Got Thunder [and it rings]’ and ‘I’ll String Along With You’ – are covers.  The eight originals are pulled from Bell’s three most recent albums, Sagacious Grace (2011), Silva Bell Elation (2014) and Lins, Lennox, & Life (2018).  Considering that Bell has apparently released a total of five albums and that her first two albums, Let There Be Love and One By One were released in 1982 and 1984 respectively, those three albums make up a big (and the most recent) part of Bell’s career.  To that end, the songs featured in this record are quite representative of Bell’s catalog.  This is something that Bell’s established audiences will appreciate just as much as more casual audiences.  That is because of the solid introduction that they offer said audiences. 

The songs featured in Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now form a strong foundation for the record.  Building on that foundation is the production that went into the songs in remastering them.  The clarity in each composition is so rich.  Whether it be the balance of the saxophone and piano line against Bell’s vocals in ‘Harvest Moon,’ the warmth of Bell’s vocals against the subdued piano line in ‘Watch What Happens’ or the subtle trumpet line featured in ‘By Chance [Acaso]’ that opens the song and the even more subtle brushes used on the snare drum here, or any other part in the rest of the songs, it all offers so much to appreciate.  Clearly, plenty of time and effort went into remastering the songs.  The result is a record full of songs (especially originals) that will fully immerse Bell’s established audiences and more casual fans alike.  It is not the last of the record’s most important elements, either.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

From beginning to end, the sequencing of Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  The whole thing opens on an upbeat note in Bell’s cover of Abbey Lincoln’s ‘I Got Thunder [and it rings]’ but then immediately after changes things up with the much more subdued cover of Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s ‘I’ll string Along With You.’  The gentle, flowing tones from the piano line and the equally subtle work on the drums here makes for a stark contrast to the more energetic approach taken in the record’s opener and ensures audiences’ interest here.  What audiences get from that point is another up and down of the album’s energy between the more upbeat modern jazz approach of ‘Harvest Moon’ and the more reserved vibes of the record’s next handful of songs.  Things finally pick back up again later in the form of ‘Boa Nova.’  The thing here is that even as the record’s energy picks back up here, it is still controlled to a point with the Latin-tinged approach and style here.  So it makes for an interesting transition point in the overall sequencing.  ‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ pulls things back once more as the album moves into its back end, keeping things interesting.  ‘Watch What Happens’ gives audiences another interesting mix of upbeat energy and control in one, which makes for a fine transition point once again, this time to the album’s upbeat finale, ‘The Face I Love.’  The overall picture, looking at all of this, is a record whose sequencing opens and closes the presentation on an upbeat note.  Along the way, there are plenty of subtle ups and downs in the songs’ energies and changes even in their stylistic approaches.  In other words, the sequencing does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the record’s content and its production.  Keeping that in mind, it puts the finishing touch to the record and rounds out its most important elements.  When it is considered along with the record’s content and production, all three elements make Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now a presentation that Bell’s established audiences and casual fans alike will find worth experiencing at least once.

Dee Bell’s new compilation record, Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is a presentation that most audiences will find interesting.  Its interest comes in large part through its featured songs.  The songs are a relatively rich representation of Bell’s catalog.  The songs’ production is of its own note, too.  That is because of the aesthetic impact that it has on listeners as they take in the collection.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  That is because of the stability in the songs’ energies that it ensures as the record progresses.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now.  All things considered, they make the record a presentation that audiences will agree is worth experiencing at least once.

Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now is available now through Laser Records.  More information on the record is available along with all of Dee Bell’s latest news at https://deebell.net.

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Andre Ferreri’s New LP Is Not This Year’s Best New Jazz Album, But Is Still An Enjoyable Offering

Courtesy: Laser Records

Jazz guitarist Andre Ferreri has built quite the name and reputation for himself over the course of his career.  Having composed works that have ended up on television, and recorded songs with some of the jazz community’s most well-known names, he has more than made his own place in the industry.  His new album, Numero Uno will only serve to continue cementing his place in the music (and especially jazz) community, too.  The 11-song record is scheduled for release Monday through Laser Records.  Its musical arrangements offer audiences much to appreciate.  They will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s musical arrangements offer their own share of engagement and entertainment, the record is not perfect.  The lack of background information on the songs in the liner notes detracts from the album’s presentation, though not enough to make the album a failure.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  It works with the songs themselves to make for more engagement and entertainment and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Numero Uno a record that number one or not, jazz fans will still enjoy.

Andre Ferreri’s new album, Numero Uno is not the top entry in this year’s field of new jazz records or even jazz guitar records.  It is still an enjoyable record that is well worth hearing, though.  That is due in part to the record’s featured arrangements.  The arrangements in question are fun, original works that range from bebop influence (the album’s opener, ‘Mighty Fine’) to more bluesy jazz (‘Uptown Swing’) to fusion (‘Avia Pervia’) and even to modal jazz (‘Making Major Changes,’ ‘Making Minor Changes’).  In other words, the album really runs the gamut so to speak here, offering audiences a wide range of styles from one song to the next.  Ferreri’s performances and those of his fellow musicians – Ziad Rabie (tenor saxophone), Kobie Watkins (drums), Anna Stadlman (acoustic bass), Brad Wilcox (trumpet), and pianists Mark Stallings, Phillip Howe, and Sean Higgins (each performed on separate tracks) – are to credit for the enjoyment in each song.  That is exhibited through the control that each musician shows in each performance.  From the subtleties of Rabie’s performance throughout, to Watkins’ control in his solo in the album’s opener and controlled swing in ‘Uptown Swing,’ to Stadlman’s rich sound in ‘Good Bones’ and so much more, the performances throughout offer their own enjoyment.  At the same time, that enjoyment leads to enjoyment of the varied styles and sounds presented here.

While the musical content and related performances thereof offer audiences much to appreciate, the record is not perfect.  The album is lacking in any background information on any of the songs in the liner notes.  As a result, audiences are left to make their own inferences as to the songs’ meanings.  Case in point is ‘We Were All Children.’  The song’s title infers perhaps a certain introspection.  The gentle piano line from Stallings here alongside the equally subtle performances from Ferreri and Rabie does in fact conjure thoughts of a person thinking back to those days of innocence.  The thing is, one cannot help but wonder if that was what Ferreri was intending to do here.  Again, not having any background information on the song leaves it completely open to interpretation.  Stallings’ flourishes against Watkins’ cymbals in the bridge here really conjures those thoughts of maybe children at play while Rabie’s gentle, subtle performance on saxophone leads to thoughts of children perhaps just being with their loved ones.  It would have been nice to have known if in fact all of that is what Ferreri and company were intending to make listeners contemplate.

‘Seasons,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another example of why it would have been nice to have had some background information on the songs.  The first thing that comes to mind here is maybe a musical interpretation of the feelings that are associated with each of the four seasons.  However, without that background information, that cannot be assured.  Add in the fact that the energy exuded throughout the song could just as easily be associated with any of the seasons.  That full-on ambiguity here can easily lead to incorrect interpretations.  So again, here is another example of why background information in the liner notes would have benefited the album’s presentation. 

‘On the Move’ is yet another example of why background on the songs would have benefited the album’s presentation.  This upbeat, six minute-plus composition presents such energy from start to end.  Ferreri, Rabie, and Watkins join with Higgins here to really move listeners.  The thing is that again, one cannot help but wonder what the background was here.  The song’s tone is positive and optimistic, like someone looking forward to the future, thus “On the Move.”  That is just this critic’s own interpretation.  The reality could in fact be something completely different, but sadly having nothing to go on, that just detracts from the experience, if only minimally.  Here is the thing.  When that detraction is considered with the impact of having no liner notes for any of the album’s other songs (including those noted here) it detracts noticeably from the album’s overall presentation.  The impact is not enough to make the album a failure by any means, but it certainly would have been nice to have had that background on the songs.  That would have greatly enhanced the listening experience.

Since the lack of background information on the songs in Ferreri’s new album does not doom the record (thankfully), that means that it is still well worth hearing, regardless.  Building on that, the sequencing of the album’s content works with that content to put the finishing touch to the album’s presentation.  The sequencing is especially important here because the album exceeds the one hour mark, clocking in at one hour, six minutes and roughly 36 seconds (to be totally precise).  That means this record is not short by any means.  The album’s shortest song clocks in at five minutes and its longest at seven minutes, 48 seconds.  In other words, this record is not one for audiences with short attention spans.  Thankfully, the energy exuded by each performer ensures that regardless of the songs’ run times, audiences will remain engaged and entertained.  As a result, their focus will be on the music rather than the songs’ run times.  When this is considered along with the diversity in the songs’ sounds and styles, that pairing makes this record well worth hearing among those in the jazz community.

Andre Ferreri’s new album Numero Uno is an applause-worthy new offering from the veteran jazz guitarist/composer.  It is a presentation that will appeal to anyone within the jazz community.  That is proven in part through the album’s featured arrangements.  The arrangements are diverse in their sounds and styles.  While the arrangements form a solid foundation for its presentation, the lack of any background information on the songs does detract from the listening experience to a point.  The negative impact caused by that lack is not enough to doom the album, though.  Keeping that in mind, when the album’s sequencing is considered along with the songs, that pairing puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation and ultimately makes the album enjoyable for any jazz fan.  Numero Uno is scheduled for release Monday through Laser Records.  More information on this and other titles from Laser Records is available at:

Website: https://www.laserrecords.com/home

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laserrecordsllc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaserRecordsLLC

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.