New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Since her captivating debut in 2009, jazz vocalist Sylvia Brooks has displayed a gift for inhabiting different personas, with a subspecialty in film- noir inspired femmes fatale. On this - Signature (Rhombus Records) - her fourth album, she embraces the most challenging role of all, defining herself with a set of beautifully crafted original songs.
Her evocative lyrics and emotionally direct delivery imbue the music with hard-won authenticity. Whether looking back with wry affection on her walk-on-the-wild-side youth or lamenting a lost love, Brooks brings bracing honesty and poise to the material.
Artistically, she is collaborating with Southern California's most creative accompanists: ace pianists Tom Ranier, Jeff Colella, and Christian Jacob designed beguiling, harmonically rich settings for her incisive lyrics. The stellar rhythm section tandem of drummer Ray Brinker and bassist Trey Henry appear on almost every track. Also featuring cellists John Waltz, lead cellist for The Los Angeles Opera Company, Stephanie
Fife and Mike Kaufman.
Highlights include the cautionary tale "Red Velvet
Rope" which is set to a sensuous Latin groove by cuatro master Kiki Valera, scion of a legendary Cuban musical clan. And she sways through swingtown, from the witty "Catch 22
" to the passionately romantic "The Flea Markets of Paris."
The two songs she includes by other artists, Melody
Gardot's bluesy, organ-driven "Your Heart
Is as Black
as Night" and the Leonard Cohen/Sharon Robinson erotic lament "Boogie Street" seem to raise the temperature of her own work. This album marks a quantum leap reflecting years of concentrated effort.
"I really worked hard on trying to make the stories deeper and richer," she says, "each song is really a story within itself."