|Carl Cafagna, Nicci- Der Stepanian, Meri Slaven, and Jeremy St. Martin|
I heard the Metro Jazz Voices for the first time in 2009 at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. Singers Meri Slaven, Jeremy St. Martin, Carl Cafagna, and Nicci Der-Stepanian had only been together for five months. Man, they're rough around the edges. Still, two things were apparent.
First, the MJV's long-term goal was to be like noted vocal jazz groups Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross, and the New York Voices. Secondly, the MJV's biggest challenge was finding time to rehearse.
Three years have passed and the MJV has grown by leaps and bounds. They’ve put out a self-titled album, and have been working like crazy around Detroit. Wednesday night, I caught the MJV at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. They’re booked there four nights.
The MJV sparkled like pricey silverware. They performed many golden oldies such as “My Funny Valentine,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and “I've Got You Under My Skin”.
Of the foursome, Slaven still has the strongest voice. Cafagna is a wonderful sax player. For proof, I point to his work with the Hot Club of Detroit, and North Star Jazz. Cafagna sang decently, but his scatting was flat. He tried too hard to scat like his idol Jon Hendricks.
The star was Trish Shandor. Last September, Shandor replaced Der-Stepanian, and Shandor has worked like a house slave to learn the pool of oldies MJV perform regularly. I was awed by how effortlessly and sweetly she sang while sight reading.
The MJV has the golden oldies thing down pat. The next level will be performing original songs.