Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BRIA SKONBERG COVERED A LOT OF GROUND ON DEBUT


Bria, what’s nice about running a jazz blog is the new albums I get from jazz musicians across the country I never heard of. Honestly, I haven’t received any groundbreaking albums, but most  are worthwhile, and I encourage my readers to buy them. This year, I’ve received a bunch of  excellent albums by white female jazz singers. I don’t know why.

Maybe, the female singers have a movement underway I’m unaware of. If that's the case, they can count on my support. “So is The Day,” which Random Act Records released Tuesday is the best one I’ve listened to. Bria, you covered a lot ground. Before I comment on that, I want to formerly introduce you to my readers. I won’t take long.

Bria Skonberg is a jazz trumpeter and singer influenced by trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Bria is a better singer than Armstrong was. I was convinced of that after I listened to the title cut, a blues number enhanced by a wonderful solo by sax player Victor Goines, a veteran of  Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. 

Bria grew up in Western Canada, and everybody in her immediate family plays an instrument. After she graduated from Capilano University, she led three short-lived jazz bands The Big Band Jazz Band, Bria’s Hot Five, and the Mighty Aphrodite Jazz Band., which may explain why she's comfortable playing various styles of jazz.

Jazz critic Nat Hentoff praised her in the Wall Street Journal. Hentoff is a jazz God, and he was on a first-name basis with Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Carmen McRae, and Dinah Washington.  I’m not suggesting Bria is in their league.

If Bria keeps putting out bulletproof jazz albums like "So is The Day," someday she'll be a brand like Fitzgerald, Holiday, McRae and Washington were.. For now, Bria is leaving her footprint all over New York’s jazz scene. 

Earlier I said you covered a lot of ground on “So is The Day”. It’s full like a fat man’s dinner plate. Making the album was a big undertaking the could've gone awry, writing most of the songs and keeping the special guests--Wycliffe Gordon, Victor Goines, and John Pizzarelli-happy was no small feat.  

In spots,  "So is The Day" felt like a neighborhood block party.Your band had a ball recording “Chilliwack Cheer”. It sounded like a parade was in the studio. That song is my pick for the album’s MVP. “My Friend” was a close second. 

It was the kind of tearjerker gospel song you’d write if a close friend died unexpectedly. Bria, I wondered why you decided to close with that song, given most of the album was upbeat. Anyway, “So is The Day” is a debut jazz album that made the hairs on my neck, knuckles and toes dance..
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