Something good. And about time! It’s trombonist / singer / composer / arranger / bandleader Emily Asher’s debut CD, sweetly titled DREAMS MAY TAKE YOU.
Along with Emily, you will hear Wycliffe Gordon, on sousaphone and trombone; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocal; Philip Dizack, trumpet; Dan Levinson, tenor sax, clarinet; William Anderson, alto sax; Nick Russo, guitar, banjo; Gordon Webster, piano; Kelly Friesen, bass; Rob Adkins, bass; Kevin Dorn, drums; Rob Garcia, drums. For those of you familiar with the hot New York scene, those names are a guarantee of fine swinging inventive jazz.
Much of the repertoire would appear to be “good old good ones,” including SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET and SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, but the CD is anything but by-the-numbers. Emily is more than a fine trombonist and a sweetly winning singer: she is an imaginative musician, so the CD doesn’t bog down in the same thing; every track is its own vignette.
It begins with a romping version of ORY’S CREOLE TROMBONE, which Emily delivers with a fine gutty fervor (and her own version of a trombone cadenza). The soloists share Emily’s high-flying enthusiasm, and the rhythm sections couldn’t be better. So the chestnuts have a delightful 2012 Condonite bounce and looseness. The CD’s title comes from an Asher original — by Emily’s father — called LULLABY FOR A LITTLE ONE, on which Miss Asher sings with winsome charm. (And she knows when to leave an audience wanting more: the LULLABY is a delicious cameo, slightly over two minutes.) It’s followed by a New Orleans “second line” version of CHANGES MADE, which would cause the sedentary to start dancing. The original SWEET PEA is part cowboy-ballad, part rocking barcarolle, with touches of Fifties West Coast cool arranging. HEY, LOOK ME OVER is Emily’s childhood party piece — which begins in an easy waltz-time before morphing into sleek swing — that won me over when I saw her do it (with apt choreography) at Radegast. A streamlined EMPEROR NORTON’S HUNCH has shed all its two-beat trappings, and bursts forth gracefully. SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET features the duet stylings of Asher and Skonberg — neatly warbling the hip variations I associate with John Birks Gillespie — before the ensemble gives way to a piano / trombone duet. Emily’s original GREAT BIG WALL will be the only song you know (I would guess) that mixes Latin rhythms and Middle Eastern tonalities. Successfully, I must add. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE begins with a slide guitar / trombone duet and then blossoms, lyrically. MUSKRAT RAMBLE begins with the Hot Five introduction and rocks from the first note (not too slow, not too fast, either) — with a splendidly tapping drum solo by Kevin Dorn in the middle. SOMEDAY YOU’LL BE SORRY, taken at a brisk clip, is another trombone-piano outing, very delicate in its earnestness, with a straight-from-the-shoulder vocal by Emily, taking the lyrics with a gentle seriousness that would have pleased its creator. And the disc ends with LIMEHOUSE BLUES, a version that had the energy of the World’s Greatest Jazz Band of fabled memory.
Nothing’s dull or forced on this CD: it’s one of those rare creations where you want to play it over again when it ends.
I couldn’t attend Emily’s May 29 CD release party at Radegast — a true Garden Party, I hear — but the CD is its own jubilant party. You can purchase one here – either as a digital download or a physical CD.
And the GP will be strolling around the New Jersey Jazz Society’s JAZZFEST on Saturday, June 16, which begins at noon and ends at 9 PM. And when Emily and company need a rest, you can hear Jon Burr, Lynn Stein, Andy Farber’s Swing Mavens featuring Champian Fulton, the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra, the Tony DeSare trio, Eddie Monteiro, Swingadelic, and more. Tickets can be ordered at 908.273.7827 or online at http://www.njjs.org.
Look out, world: here she comes!
May your happiness increase.