Perhaps the finest live recording from a vocal ensemble in the modern era.
Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz.com
An Independent critic can never review everything. Roughly a thousand releases a year and after doing the math that works out to reviewing music 27/7 for three solid months so that is my excuse why I am a little late to the party with The New York Voices. Having recently reviewed their soon to be released Christmas effort, I decided to go back and check out Live With The WDR Big Band Cologne. The Christmas release was amazing but then again it is pretty hard to screw up that material. Putting an improvisational quartet together with arguably the finest big band in Europe and suddenly the stakes just went up, or did they?
Never bet against New York or The New York Voices. From their own riff on the classic "Love Me Or Leave Me" which is brimming with vitality to the blues infused cover and stellar arrangement of the Annie Lennox tune "Cold" we find the New York Voices in amazing form and the arrangements of Michael Abene simply spot on. This particular engagement was from a 2008 concert but released by Palmetto in 2012 and there is simply nothing to grind on here. Aside from some dynamite reharms of Paul Simon's "Baby Driver" and "I Do It For Your Love" the set list holds down the eclectic flair but stretches into some standards that are familiar yet not beaten to death by similar ensembles. "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" is dialed up a couple of notches while the "Almost Like Being In Love" is a cappella amped up to the next level.
"Entertaining" is critic speak equivalent to having that fix-up referred to as the girl with a great personality. The New York Voices are simply vocal artistry of the highest caliber.
None better. Hard to believe it has been 25 glorious years!
Personnel: Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, Darmon Meader, Peter Eldridge.