Kaylé Brecher, is far from your "traditional" jazz singer. A versatile set of pipes that can run the jazz table from Sheila Jordan and Sarah Vaughn to Morgana King and Ella Fitzgerald. From smooth as silk to that raw edge, Brecher has a vocal style hard to pin down and in an overly crowded field of female vocalists that can work well in her favor. Cutting her musical teeth in the clubs of Greenwich Village it may well be the eclectic diversity of this environment that has allowed Brecher to be just a handful of singers that simply do not sound like anyone else specifically.
What makes Brecher more formidable as a legit jazz triple threat is her ability to sing, work as a serious composer and she has the ear for creative arranging. Kaylé Brecher has the same philosophy I recently discussed with Motema artist Rondi Charleston, each song is and should develop like a one act play to tell a complete story. Brecher has a dynamite melodic feel, a harmonic base and rhythmic understanding that allows her to not just sing the words but make the music. Spirals and Lines is her latest offering taking on and featuring many of Philadelphia's finest musicians. Brecher sings outside the box but never so far out as to lose the listener or even her band. An interesting aspect to Spirals and Lines would be the absence of reed instruments or string bass and she sings more in harmonic comparison to the brass section. The unique sound of Brecher includes sophisticated and sometimes political lyrics with topical and timeless results. Personally I would leave the hidden political agendas to vocalists such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell or even Bjork but...Brecher pulls it off. Color me old school, much like my other demons I do prefer my jazz and my politics kept in separate drawers.
"High Flying Bird' is a bittersweet if not ironic pro-labor tune which is actually kicked up a notch with some infectious scatting which adds a whole new vibe to what could have been a more traditionally based protest song. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" which was originally a celebratory war song, not celebrating war but the joy and preservation of freedom is subsequently flipped to a tune that is wistful, introspective and full of melancholy but again Brecher makes her re-harm of this standard her own. Brecher does a winning riff on the depression era tune "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" which I playfully refer to as the "Obama Song" but only highlights the distinct difference between artist and critic. The Charles Mingus tune "Noddin' Ya Head Blues" tosses Kaylé Brecher, full on into a blues wheelhouse that she handles effortlessly. Closing out the set if a whimsical take on "So It Goes" which seems to linger long after the release. I'll take Kaylé Brecher, at face value. A serious jazz triple threat with mad skills and the ability to take her creative energy any where she wants to go. The real deal.
As a conservative critic, Brecher and I are polar opposite when it comes to all things political as well as their place and proper treatment in the music world. Take all that mess and chuck it out the window, look at Brecher in a purely objective p.o.v oriented take on her craft and you will find one of the more formidable talents to be reckoned with.
High marks for mad skills. Nothing more you can say!
Tracks: Spirals and Lines; High Flying Bird; When Johnny Comes Marching Home; Paths of Victory; Will of the Wind; Brother, Can You Spare a Dime; The House I Live In. Noddin' Ya Head Blues; So It Goes.
Personnel: Kaylé Brecher: vocals, percussion; Jimmy Parker: sousaphone; Stan Slotter: flugelhorn & trumpet; David Dzubinski: piano; Frank Butrey: electric and acoustic guitars; George Rabbai: trumpet; Tony DeSantis: trumpet; Fred Scott: trombone; Jarred Antonacci: bass trombone; George Barnett: french horn; Mike Jarosz: flugelhorn; Grant MacAvoy: drums; Erik Johnson; drums.