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Ilse Huizinga - Here's To Maya Angelou (2016)

10-05-2016, 17:10
Vocal Jazz | FLAC / APE

Title: Here's To Maya Angelou
Year Of Release: 2016
Label: Daybreak
Genre: Jazz Vocals
Quality: FLAC | MP3
Total Time: 44:26
Total Size: 254 MB | 105 MB

1. A Caged Bird Sings (4:33)
2. Equality And I Will Be Free (3:01)
3. Turned To Blue (2:54)
4. The Old Ones (3:49)
5. Song For Willie (3:34)
6. Gamut (3:14)
7. Call Letters (3:58)
8. Work (4:46)
9. Poor Girl, Just Like Me (4:50)
10. Adhering (3:37)
11. The Human Family (3:20)
12. A Phenomenal Woman (2:45)

The Amsterdam jazz singer Ilse Huizinga has made six albums up to now. Here's to You Maya Angelou is her latest pitch, an album with new compositions for which composer and pianist Erik van der Luijt wrote the music, while the artist browsed through the oeuvre of the American author and poet Maya Angelou (deceased in 2014). In The Jazz Singer, the Ultimate Guide by Scott Yanow, Ilse Huizinga is rated among the 500 best international jazz vocalists, and that is reason enough to listen to her latest album.

The songs on Here's to You are performed on piano, double bass and drums. Consequently, the material sounds very different than what we can expect in a smoky jazz cafe, where blaring trumpets and saxophones often deter interested listeners. Ilse Huizinga opts for simplicity, and as a result her warm and sexy voice gets a lot of space. She studied Public Administration at the University of Amsterdam and later at the Amsterdam Conservatory, which has guaranteed her a wide range of vocal possibilities, amply illustrated on this album.

The lyrics that Ilse Huizinga has selected from the work of Maya Angelou deal with racism, identity, travel and love. The atmosphere, tone and strength of the poems struck me deeply, the singer says in the liner notes, Maya Angelou found the words that we often seek to express love, loss, hope and confidence. Erik van der Luijt is the perfect translator of those feelings, resulting in a versatile and often cheerful piano sound, sometimes dreamy and subdued, other times explicit and pronounced, with quiet and then rumbling drums in the background and a silky double bass as in the beautiful and understated peace ballad A Caged Bird Sings. Equality and I Will be Free refers to Angelou’s political commitment that inspired many people. Huizinga hops at a reasonable rate through the lyrics, backed by a sparkling piano and panting percussion: a testimony and an indictment at the same time. Turned to Blue gets a dreamy and peaceful pace with Ilse Huizinga's understated vocals against a backdrop of warm double bass sounds. A deep and throbbing bass introduces the first notes of The Old Ones, a fragile composition in which Huizinga can steam ahead, supported by versatile percussion and an appealing piano.

The drums take the lead in Song of Willie. The piano rises and falls, and Ilse Huizinga spreads beautiful vocals over it, while Gamut is quieter again, with a relaxed jazz voice, a gentle rippling piano and minimal percussion: an attractive love song that grows into a beautiful ballad. Call Letters is again more upbeat with a singing piano, pretty much spoken vocals, but also beautiful inflections in the melody. Halfway through, Work gets a strong melody. It's an up-tempo ballad that settles in your ear during the first listen. In Poor Girl, Just Like Me, Ilse Huizinga pulls out all the stops to color the melody, subdued and dreamy, backed by gorgeous and versatile piano music by Erik van der Luijten. Adhering would fit on a Billy Holliday album, a melancholy jazz ballad with varied piano, rumbling percussion and gentle vocals. The Human Family attracts our attention with a nice rhythm, and closing song A Phenomenal Woman is an attractive and sunny ballad with the quality of a singer-songwriter’s composition.

If you do not like jazz and jazz-related music, then we may not be able to convince you with this album, but fans and interested music lovers will surely be interested in these 12 compositions. ~William Lienard

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