Janis Mann | Blow Away

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Jazz: Jazz quartet Moods: Type: Vocal
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Blow Away

by Janis Mann

An audio snapshot of four musicians who went into the studio and courted serendipity. Mann functions as a horn that improvises yet also interprets lyrics.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
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  Song Share Time Download
1. That Old Black Magic
3:17 $0.99
2. Never Let Me Go
4:04 $0.99
3. Then I'll Be Tired of You
5:07 $0.99
4. I Got Lost In His Arms
4:15 $0.99
5. Moment To Moment
3:26 $0.99
6. Slow Hot Wind
5:30 $0.99
7. If You Could See Me Now
5:37 $0.99
8. My One and Only Love
4:37 $0.99
9. It's Always You
3:23 $0.99
10. You'll See
5:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Janis Mann’s last album, A Perfect Time (Pancake 2008), was a galvanizing tour de force that revealed her as a singer who loves to swing and has an affinity for rhythmic variation.
With this offering, Mann shows us another side of her tonal personality. Her past efforts have utilized written arrangements and pre-set formats, but here Janis and her band trusted their musical instincts. This album is not a construct of multiple takes and canny edits, laboriously winnowed into a pasted-up final edition. It’s an audio snapshot of four musicians who met in the studio and courted serendipity. The heads were worked out on the spot and they relied on mutual chemistry as a guide.
The idea of equal collaboration is important here. Unlike the usual figure/ground relationship of a vocalist who stands in front of a trio, Mann functions as a horn that improvises yet also interprets lyrics. The lush though intense lyric reading on “Never Let Me Go” floats and undulates over the free-flowing accompaniment of indeterminate meter. Talk about flying without a net!
She’s one of the few true heirs to Sarah Vaughan, but Janis is no clone. They share an ability to improvise melodically and subtly manipulate notes—like the discreet yet wavy melisma on Henry Mancini’s sultry “Slow Hot Wind.” Sarah took out a patent on Tadd Dameron’s lush “If You Could See Me Now” when she recorded it in 1946. Janis pulls off the hat trick of giving a first-class rendition while nodding to Sarah, and yet making her own statement.
Mann could scarcely have chosen more flexible collaborators. Pianist Bill Cunliffe is a Grammy-winning arranger, who plays with an arranger’s ability to see the whole tune, not just one set of eight bars after another. He doesn’t merely support Janis—he provides musical options and potential. His sublime introduction to “I Got Lost in His Arms” offers a judiciously chosen harmonic outline for her to design the first chorus upon. Then he leads the way for her, gets underneath her, and opens up space for her in the most thoughtful ways.
Bassist Cristoph Luty has a similar sense of the best choices, drawn from a wide musical vocabulary: muscular chords on a rhythm tune, a melancholy arco break on “Slow Hot Wind” or a pizzicato melodic fragment behind one of Mann’s held notes. The protean Roy McCurdy remains a drummer for all seasons. He provides everything from the sizzle to “Old Black Magic,” whispering brushes, colorful cymbals, and the gently rocking beat on “My One and Only Love.”
In this company, she can swing at any tempo, take liberties with phrasing and rhythm, and impart a lyric with clarity and emotion. Her judicious use of scat, as on “Moment to Moment,” springs organically from the tag. A first-class balladeer as well, her “Then I’ll Be Tired of You” relies on forthright delivery rather than musical tricks. Taken together, it amounts to the province of an artist, and Janis Mann doesn’t share it with many others. –Kirk Silsbee
June 2010



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