There is something enchanting about Kaleidoscope, this disc that opens it up to a wider circle of listeners than those who simply want to hear jazz vocals. This is also a record with intriguing slants on music that we may know from elsewhere and in other manifestations – like Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call me maybe” for instance, in a superb arrangement by Andréa Wood, who is the bright star of her debut recording. And if there is anything she does to us, Ms. Wood commands our rapt attention. Yet without romanticising hindsight, these recordings reveal a singer whose combination of vocal beauty and passionate urgency of expression is virtually unsurpassed in her generation.
Andréa Wood’s is an evenly produced soprano voice sometimes most youthful and vulnerable-sounding and without guile. She brings a mix of vocal purity, passion and emotional nakedness that far belies her age. Often I am reminded of a visual artist who etches images into our consciousness. Ms. Wood does just that with songs as she delves deep into her own soul to etch the narrative and its characters deep into our own souls. Sample this in Eden Ahbenz’s “Nature Boy” with its impassioned climaxes that sear the brain with lyrical beauty. The beauty of the arrangement, the punctuating instruments doubles the enjoyment of this and other charts on the album.
Ms. Wood also contributes a remarkably mature catalogue of music to this record. Much of this reveals the gravitas and erudition of this young vocalist. She takes this to the very limits of advanced vocal virtuosity as the music arrives by way of her band’s encouragement as she follows the meaning of each line with unstudied conviction, the most beautifully realised in the irradiating mysteries of relationships in a heartbreaking rendition of “Parting ways”. Her vocalastics are no less compelling in the other repertoire on this disc where her voice glints and darts in the exultant bravura of other songs, the coloratura always perfectly even.
A vocalist singing with as much beauty and confidence as Andréa Wood requires her band to back her up with at least as much character as the singer possess. In this regard the musicians never let her down. Special mention need to be made of Angelo Di Loreto, whose keyboards play a key role in musicality of the disc. Mr. Di Loreto’s musicianship is quite sublime and his work on the Rhodes and the two organs that he plays is quite superb. Nick Wood’s rap on “Doo Wop” is fine and sultry and sets the tone for Andréa Wood’s vocals. And of course, there is the work of Donny McCaslin, ever memorable on the two tracks on which he appears.
All in all this is a significant debut by a very talented artist of whom much more is expected in the not-too-distant future.
Track List: Intuition; The arabesque of love; Interlude I; You and I; Take a chance; Nature boy; Interlude II; The little things; Kaleidoscope (fall in place); Call me maybe; Parting ways; Three little birds; Doowop.
Personnel: Andréa Wood: vocals; Angelo Di Loreto: piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Hammond B3; Olli Hirvonen: electric and acoustic guitars; Ethan O’Reilly: acoustic and electric basses, and vocals; Philippe Lemm: drums, percussion and vocals; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone (1 & 6); Nick Wood: production (3, 7 & 13) and vocals (13); Andrew Sheron: vocals (12), electric bass (13) and other stuff.
About Andréa Wood
Andréa Wood is living proof that music was meant to evolve. As a vocalist, she has been praised by JazzTimes Magazine for her “astonishing vocal range effective in conveying the emotions of a song.” As a composer and arranger, she mines even deeper ore with a signature sound that is simultaneously accessible and interesting. On all fronts, she draws on jazz, soul, and Brazilian influences, balancing innovative song writing with respect for the standards through which she learned her craft. Read more…