Soulful Days commences with a fat bass intro letting into Vanessa Perea's mead-sweet voice tackling the Kirk / Dorough Devil May Care. Suddenly, though, her vocals take a commandingly imperious turn as an almost avant-garde trombone line jumps in—or is it a muted trumpet carefully covering its tracks? listen carefully!—Dixie by way of a stray Butch Morris measure or two. From there, the real song begins, taking the now standard Zoho label tack of upsetting convention while recalibrating what's to come in genre methodologies. The song tilts and angles all over the place, Dave Lantz's understated piano suddenly subtly underscoring everything half way through the piece. Who, I wondered as I laid an ear, is arranging this way cool mash-up; who's arranging? Turns out it's Rob Edwards, the 'bone player and co-producer, along with Perea, of the entire affair.
I've been saying for the past coupla years that the too-long modern traditional wont to scamp the trombone has been a huge mistake. This disc is proof, and, yes, that lead track is signatory, as is its follow-on, Soulful Days (a re-titling and re-working of Calvin Massey's These are Soulful Days, lyrics supplied by Perea), which starts in a near-melisma vocal harmony tracking the 'bone, Perea turning ever more melodically abstract, finally into pure scat. Nice evolution. We all know how swingin' this kind of work is, but we also know of its early days enamorment with latinate styles—think Jobim/Getz, that period—and Soulful Days is permeated with what arose from that era stepping into the Miles/Mingus/Monk permutations; thus, expect to bop as you Lindy Hop and waggle a reet pleat.
At times, Perea's sweetness and tone remind of an Olivia Newton-John but then she gets down to brass tacks and turns into a highly confident convicted jazzer, occasionally almost a belter, near Ella-esque, so strongly does her spirit break through on the high end. Always at her side is Edwards with extremely articulate lines and buttresses. Raven-tressed and slinky as though she might be Sarah Silverman's sister, there's an equal sexiness and attraction, once the music gets convoluted and breakneck, all that goes out the window and everybody's up on the dance floor or snuggling up to a muggle and seat dancing. The satin side slides back in, though, in the ballads (Jim and Luz do Sol especially), wherein all and sundry grow misty and dreamy-eyed, turning from hand-jiving hipsters into crème brûlée. It's that kinda disc.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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