Sonic trickery and serious playfulness are at the heart of this Verve catalogue remix project. No shrinking violet singer and flautist Melanie Charles goes for a bubbling, confident raucous strength on all her reimaginings and certainly the treatment of Marlena Shaw classic 'Woman of the Ghetto' the Shaw, Richard Evans and Bobby Miller socially conscious classic from Shaw's 1969 Cadet album The Spice of Life captures its spirit. Brooklyn-born of Haitian descent and also known earlier in her career as d'Flower, Charles' cover of Norman Mapp's 'Jazz (Ain't Nothing But Soul)' associated with Betty Carter is more of a rollercoaster ride. But to go right back to the beginning 'God Bless the Child' has an anthemic sweep to it, 'Perdido' sounds so antique and you do a reset when you come across it as Charles samples Dinah Washington. With Charles on the album among others are bassists Dezron Douglas and Tony Garnier, the former Vijay Iyer drummer Marcus Gilmore and Melanie's brother Rogerst Charles on alto saxophone. I liked the production a lot, the shuddering recasting like the sound of buffering on the Internet of Dinah Washington reframing 'What A Difference a Day Made' with its smudging at the edges and rebellious spirit underpinning and destabilising us up front and personal. And that's what Charles does best. It's a tonic as we all grapple with the ever-distant jazz past and square it in whatever way with the 21st century present.
Tags: Albums and EPs