Debut releases are normally feast or famine. Far too often an artist takes the easy way out. Instrumentalists do their riff on selected tunes fans will know while vocal artists take refugee in The Great American Songbook. Robin Bessier's debut release Other Side of Forever embraces the visceral and cerebral with five thought provoking originals and some of the most difficult standards possible to test the vocal chops of even the most seasoned pro.
Bessier's pristene vocals are met head on with lush arrangements as well as being stripped down on occasion to the simple piano / vocal duet. Vibrant swing, bright and breezy bossas and heart tugging ballads are intertwined with great effect as the ebb and flow here is effortless and lends a great deal to the overall presentation value of Other Side of Forever. Opening up with the buoyant swing of the Bessier original "Don't Worry We've Got You" the release moves with precision up to "Jubilee" which has the Caribbean street parade while percussionist Jeff Bush takes the everything but the kitchen sing mentality to push the term "nuance" to the next level.
"God Bless The Child" and "Prelude To A Kiss" are tunes that can simply eat up a vocalist of lesser talent, Robin Bessier owns these tunes with impeccable phrasing, timing and that special connectivity with the average listener to really seal the deal.
The female vocal scene in modern jazz is a tightly clustered pack with no room for the faint of heart. Bessier demands a little elbow room as she settles in for what will hopefully be a long and successful stay. The entertainment value alone earns Other Side of Forever 4 Stars.
Tracks: Don't Worry We've Got You; Harvest Time; Other Side of Forever; Right Here, Right Now; Jubilee; Whisper; Too Nice; God Bless The Child; The Very Thought of You; Prelude To A Kiss; Better Than Anything."
Personnel: Robin Bessier: voice; Darin Clendenin: piano; Clipper Anderson: bass; Mark Ivester: drums; Jay Thomas: trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor & soprano sax; Jeff Busch: percussion; Dan Sales: guitar & banjo; Mike McKinley: hand percussion on Jubilee; David Lange: hand percussion on Jubilee; Barney McClure: piano on God Bless The Child, background vocals and hand percussion on Jubilee.