Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Emmaline on

Blue days, all of them gone: The songs are so familiar - Irving Berlin and Gershwins pantheon familiar. You might think: not again! But think again. Put the song titles in some sort of a sentence and that sentence has a narrative of its own: the …

Published: 2 May 2023. Updated: 13 months.

Blue days, all of them gone: The songs are so familiar - Irving Berlin and Gershwins pantheon familiar. You might think: not again! But think again. Put the song titles in some sort of a sentence and that sentence has a narrative of its own: the man I love, it had to be you, after you've gone, blue skies, someone to watch over me, sweet Georgia Brown.

Emmaline Campbell knows how to state and elevate these person-to-person much loved songs. And she has a kind of Ella Fitzgerald like purity in her voice which is no mean feat. The US singer from Indiana plays Jeanne Staples in basketball movie Sweetwater which stars Everett Osborne in the title role of Nat 'Sweetwater' Clifton, the first African-American to sign an NBA contract. The Staples character is a jazz singer wannabe and friend of Sweetwater's.

Brief and to the point this EP, certainly Emmaline emerges as an upmarket ready-to-go new jazz singing star in the classic mould tailor made for the newly excited Samara Joy fanbase wanting heaps more of the same. Irving Berlin classic 'Blue Skies' from the 1920s is the pick, covered in recent years by in complete contrast a whole lot more Carmen Lundy-like and to be frank more real by Eugenie Jones. Emmaline's skill however is in stripping away the contemporary entirely to locate the vintage underlayer without being fuddy-duddy. She finds the essential portion of the lyrics because the point of the Berlin song after all is the line Blue days, all of them gone and what these ''blues skies'' need above all to banish completely. Emmaline, photo: press

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Matt Ulery, Mannerist, Woolgathering ***1/2

Known for his work with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Grażyna Auguścik Matt Ulery as a leader has a discography stretching back a decade and a half with more than a dozen albums to the bassist's occasionally deployed bow, the last one Become Giant with …

Published: 2 May 2023. Updated: 13 months.

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Known for his work with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Grażyna Auguścik Matt Ulery as a leader has a discography stretching back a decade and a half with more than a dozen albums to the bassist's occasionally deployed bow, the last one Become Giant with Zach Brock and the KAIA String Quartet last year. Immediately on Mannerist enter again a chamber jazz domain, a style that is certainly what seems to be Ulery's main passion.

The recording feels populated, a crowd of sound fills your ears because it's not at all a one man and a dog kind of record. So no woofs. With a trio, pianist Paul Bedal and drummer Jon Deitemyer joining Ulery, three horn players and that ''crowd,'' if you like - an 11-piece woodwind and brass group while not at all an exact comparison Highway Rider territory springs to mind listening especially to 'Under a Dusken Crown'. But unlike that Brad Mehldau 2010 release, Ulery isn't as beholden or at all a willing captive crouching at the altar of Johannes Brahms. 'Left Window' is the most Mehldau-like of the piece incidentally where Bedal's about.

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One of the album's pieces 'The Prairie is a Rolling Ocean,' appeared in a slightly darker treatment on 2018's Sifting Stars (above). And all these years on as a showcase for the bassist's arranging skills Mannerist operates at a high functioning level. Occasional flashes of individualism such as the Dave Douglas-like break from long time musical colleague trumpeter James Davis who was on 2012's By a Little Light for example on 'Under a Dusken Crown' are break-out illuminations.

Claiming that Mannerist is like film music soundrack for a film that doesn't exist is a cliché but the thought could easily be indulged given its narrative cinematic style and be plucked by a director looking for music as the beginning of a journey towards a new score. What that movie would be might amount to a bittersweet family drama set in the mid-west of the USA. You get a sense of heartbreak that is being processed on 'The Brink of What' for example. Ulery says that the piece starts ''with a dynamic ballad inspired by the spirit of Duke Ellington’s music'' although without knowing that it would be hard to make that connection on a blind listen. Later 'Another Book of Ornaments,' was inspired by the title of a drawing the bassist saw at the Art Institute of Chicago. More than decent overall like a road trip companion sort of album you happily buddy along with. Matt Ulery, photo: Devin Ulery.

Mannerist is released on Friday. 'The Brink of What,' the second of the 6 pieces, is streaming