Forgotten Voices is a musical phenomenon. As soon as one attempts to pigeon hole it as, for example, world jazz, one feels compelled to qualify the label and quickly add: with a lot of pop and folk elements as well. And a bit of western classical influence. Not to mention Balinese, Brazilian and African flavors. But any label, broad as it is, falls short of capturing the essence of what these versatile musicians are really up to, which is integrating these diverse elements into well crafted songs that get under your skin the more you listen to them. As musically sophisticated a collection as this is, it is first and foremost an album of finely honed songs with great vocals. The elements that really tie these diverse musical excursions together are in the writing and arranging of Brian Whistler, and the unique vocal talents of collaborator and sometime co-writer, Pablo Rodriguez. Whistler, a bay area jazz keyboard and vibist, gets to the essence of the tunes with his arrangements, which serve to illuminate the song's intention rather than call attention to themselves. Pablo's signature tenor is the focal point of the CD. His singing, while precise and understated, conveys an intensity, honesty and vulnerability rarely found amongst male singers in any genre. A one time student of Bobby McFerrin, Rodriguez is not another would-be Bobby imitator; he has securely staked out his own musical turf. Paul McCandless' (Oregon) soaring soprano sax, as well as oboe and English horn are prominent throughout. His solos, particularly on Love Crimes and Grains of Sand are stunning examples of this underated artist's outstanding work . Percussionist Marquinho Brasil (Jose Neto, Mariah Carey) possesses a poet's sensitivity in his subtle choice of colors, bringing out hidden meanings to a vocal phrase. And Gary Brown's (Airto) bass adds a supportive underpinning to the mix, as does the drumming of Walfredo Reyes Jr (Santana,Steve Winwood, Rickie Lee Jones), keyboard wiz Kit Walker ( Neal Schon, Steve Smith, Jai Uttal, ) All together, there were over 20 great bay area musicians involved in the project. Instrumentation varies from a primary band sound to a contemporary chamber sound scored for piano, bass, bassoon, oboe and string trio. Ambitious and multifaceted, Forgotten Voices will please jazz, world and pop fans alike.
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