Amikaeyla's stunning mezzo-soprano voice only adds to the organic nature of tunes that run the sonic spectrum from Lionel Hampton to Bill Withers and all with a seamless ebb and flow that literally has one wondering where the time went when the release ends. Amikaeyla is blessed with the rare gift of artistic connectivity to her audience, she transcends the mere vocals of a tune to go from singer to story teller taking the audience along for a delightful journey into her forward-looking artistry. Trying to tie Amikaeyla done to a specific style or genre is a daunting task as this multi-talented vocalist can as my friend Randy Jackson would say, " can sing the phone book and make it sound good!" From more traditional jazz vocals to hambone, Amikaeyla looks at her artistry and place in the jazz community as a purveyor of roots music which may be the most fitting description of her talent. Respecting tradition yet forging her own path has Amikaeyla primed to start turning heads when the new release streets later this month.
While the supporting cast would be considered first call by the most reasonable of standards, Esperanza Spalding and percussionist Sheila E. both make welcome appearances along with stellar guitarist and co-producer Ray Obiedo. In terms of material we find "Abre Mi Corazon" which is sung in Spanish and English and is her tribute to Afro-Peruvian vocalist Susana Baca. "Hambone" is a vocal collaboration with Linda Tillery involving the rhythmic slapping of the chest and thighs with part traditional and part improvisational lyrics. The Bill Withers classic "Lovely Day" has been covered a great deal over the past year or two but never better on this release. This particular version highlights a pizzicato solo by esteemed bassist Esperanza Spalding. There is a simple conceptual idea that runs throughout this delightful release, music both spiritually uplifting and soothing to the soul. I refer to this release as songs to cleanse the sonic palette. One of the more intriguing tunes would be the interpolation of the Doobie Brothers' hit "Takin' It To The Street" into a traditional Brazilian Capoeria song "Parana E'" While the song is a personal song of activism for Amikaeyla the release itself is not steeped in the polarizing political rhetoric of the day, that is for the listener to decide.
I've reviewed more female vocalists this year then I could have possibly imagined with most the musical equivalent of bubble gum. When you chew gum it is great and full of flavor, toss it away and you quickly forget about it. Amikaeyla is a vocalist that goes in the memorable pile and Being In Love is a release you will find yourself coming back to again and again!
Tracks: The Dreamer; Lovely Day; Better Than Anything; Midnight Sun; Abre Mi Corazon; Parana e' (Taking It To The Streets); Hambone; I Know You By Heart; Say Yes; Being In Love.
Personnel: Amikaeyla: voice, percussion; Eugene Friesen: cello; Glen Velez, Michael Spiro: percussion; Deszon Claiborne: drums; Clifton Brockington: flugelhorn; John Wiitala: bass; Anderson Allen: guitar; Howard Levy: piano, pennywhistle, harmonica; Sharon Henderson, Kimiko Joy, Helen Grey: background vocals; Derek Rolando: congas; Michael Spiro: Brazilian percussion, bata; Brian Collier: drums; Ray Obiedo: guitar; David Belove: bass; Carl Wheeler: hammond B-3, rhodes; David Braughton: berimbau; David Pinto: bass; Jason McGuire: percussion; John Santos, Glen Velez, Anderson Allen: percussion; Richard Peixoto: Brazilian guitar; Quartet San Francisco: Jeremy Cohen: violin; Alisa Rose: violin; Keith Lawrence: viola; Joseph Hebert: cello; Sheila E.: congas, hand percussion; Esperanza Spalding: bass; Theresa Perez: guitar; Peter Michael Escovedo: drums; Sharon Henderson, Kimiko Joy, Helen Grey: background vocals; Roger Glenn: alto flute; Linda Tillery: vocals, percussion.
A taste from You Tube.