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Music Reviews

Benjamin, Sathima Bea – “A Morning in Paris” – [Enja Records]

Thurston Hunger   7/30/1997   CD, Jazz

Quite a story from ’63: a Nazi’s secret tape, a young chanteuse takes a chance, the Duke helps and heralds here husband’s (Dollar Brand to-be Abdullah Ibrahim) combo and we’re the happy ending when we play these refreshing trad ballads. Sathima’s voice is satiny, evoking a soulfulness beyond today’s brand of vocal cords on steroids. Makaya Ntshoko’s drums are mic’d as pure fountains of cymbals with soft, splashing snare. Svend Asmussen pops champagne violin bubbles. Ellington guests on two of his pieces, Billy Stayhorn adds a pair working the lower 44, and Ibrahim fills the rest with subtle strength. On all cuts, you can hear the space between their fingers. For a one-day session of one-takes, this is remarkably relaxed. Soothing and lucid as a clear mind in dawn’s light.

-Thurston Hunger

Bryars, Gavin – “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed… ” – [Point Music]

Thurston Hunger   7/13/1997   A Library, CD

A simple sampled tramp’s prayer song unravels to reveal an amazingly rich orchestral life. Casual listening will miss the gradual momentous emotional shifts. This is actually a recreation/re-issue of the original sparked by fan and guest vocalist on the epilogue – Tom Waits. An excellent library add, excerpted overplay wouldn’t do this justic, invoke occasionally for lengthy stare-at-the-ceiling existential crises or fill an absent Public Affairs slot with this gorgeous listener epiphany generator.

-Thurston Hunger 7/13 1997