Fay Claassen, Sing!
Dutch jazz diva, Fay Claassen and conductor/arranger Micheal Abene make a dramatic statement on Claassen’s sixth LP, by taking on the massive 100-member WDR Big Band & The Rundfunk Orchester; This explosion of personnel resembles Miles Davis’ tenor with Gil Evans (1957-63) with just as many sonic twists and turns.
You would think that singing in front of such a huge assemble would be daunting, but Claassen’s confidence and natural charisma make for a pitch perfect attack; Allowing her to be-bop and swing with the rest of the orchestra or propel her phenomenal voice over the brass. Sing! is also a tribute to some of the industries most iconic female vocalists and Claassen’s hand-picked repertoire suggests her love for all genres. From Betty Carter to Joni Mitchell and even Bjork, Claassen makes these songs her own.
On Carter’s classic “Tight”, Claassen speeds up the tempo and adds a little kick to the track with huge brass hits that showcase Claassen’s impeccable phrasing and timing. Key solos include Frank Chastenier’s smooth piano ride and John Horlen’s fired up alto-sax swagger. “A Felicidade” is a multi-lingual samba track that features Claassen singing in fluent Portuguese as the band patiently follows her phrasing, stalling and speeding up on a moments notice. Beautiful stuff.
Instant favourites include Bjork’s “Cover Me”; here Abene’s haunting arrangement is definitely inspired by the golden age of cinema, as he manages to create a story out of atmospheric nuances and dark, anxiety ridden build-ups. Furthermore, let’s not kid ourselves, Mitchell’s “Be Cool” was made for a brass band and Abene wisely keeps the early 80’s vibe and injects a little energetic hard-bop.
Sing! is a challenging listen for novice listeners of jazz, but, with Claassen’s wonderful voice and Abene’s exciting arrangements these contagious songs will, without a doubt, take over your headphones and imagination. (Challenge Records)
Rating: 4/5 Stars