Saturday, March 31, 2012

Laura Karst Little Did I Dream 2011

I receive requests from Independent artists to check out their latest offering probably three times a week. For the most part it is like playing musical prospector sifting through the sonic sand and silt of music destined to go no further than happy hour at the local Marriott - till now.

Laura Karst debut solo release Little Did I Dream is a delightfully produced and well thought out gem that is as entertaining a release as you can find. With jazz having more sub genres on the family tree and the female vocalist branches clearly split into the wondrous and exciting as Christmas morning and as forgettable as my sister's Thanksgiving dinner. Little Did I Dream easily moves onto the wondrous and exciting branch with an eclectic yet incredibly likable song selection and a first call band backing her talents.

Opening with the Jerome Ken & Oscar Hammerstein II tune "Nobody Else But Me" there is an immediate and infectious swing that you hear with your feet. Essentially Little Did I Dream is a somewhat auto-biographical release documenting Karst rediscovering and falling in love with singing jazz and sings these tunes with a joyous abandon seldom heard from seasoned performers on major label deals. "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" aside from being a personal favorite may well be Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn's finest work but this starts the last thing jazz needs - paralysis by analysis. Karst does a first rate version of this tune. Pianist  Adam Shulman and bassist Doug Pohorski are the musical roots of a jazz standard tree in full bloom with this magnificent rendition of a timeless classic. "Little Did I Dream" is the signature sound for this killer ensemble, a subtle swing built around elegance and sophistication.

The set list here is while at times "predictable" is delivered by Karst instead of just a good singer doing a dozen passable covers she develops her sound and knows who she is as a vocalist and this clearly comes across in the music. Female jazz singers are a dime a dozen but a story teller that has the innate ability to create a musical connection between herself and the audience is a bit harder to find.

An entertaining release, well paced and flawlessly arranged this is how you sing jazz!

Tracks: Nobody Else But Me; When Springtime Turns To Fall; Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours; There's No You; Autumn Serenade; Desafinado; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Little Did I Dream; Everybody's Song But My Own; Devil May Care; Turn Out The Stars.

Personnel: Laura Karst: vocals; Adam Shulman: piano; Doug Pohorski: acoustic bass; Joey Niehuis: drums; Jim Schneider: tenor saxophone.

A link to sample the release: