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Bay Area Vocal Duo Amikaeyla & Trelawny Rose Plan Eva Cassidy Tribute Shows


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To celebrate the January 11 release of their Patois Records CD, To Eva, With Love, vocalists Amikaeyla and Trelawny Rose will be making two Bay Area appearances next month—Friday 1/21 at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, and Saturday 1/29 at Santa Cruz's Kuumbwa Jazz Center, where the new CD was recorded live.

The stellar band heard on the CD will be making both January shows with Amikaeyla and Trelawny: trombonist Wayne Wallace, whose Patois label is releasing the new CD and whose own recent Patois CD has just received a Grammy nomination; Simon Rochester, keyboards (composer of the album track “Prelude"); guitarist Vince Mellone; bassist David Belove; drummer David Flores; and percussionist John Santos (who contributed “Prayer for Eva" to the new disc).

In the works for three years, To Eva, With Love has been a labor of love on the part of both singers for the music of Eva Cassidy, whose premature death from melanoma in 1996, at the age of 33, left a bereft, still impassioned international community of fans. Amikaeyla and Trelawny count themselves among those admirers. Both singers credit Cassidy as a profound influence on their respective musical paths.

“Eva gave me permission to sing across the genre lines," says Trelawny. “She also taught me that singing a song with simplicity and beauty is a gift to the world and can touch audiences deeply. For me, Eva Cassidy's music brings back the basics—beautiful songs, beautiful singing, simple instrumentation, and a lot of heart."

Amikaeyla was not only a contemporary of Cassidy's but like Cassidy was from the Maryland/Washington, DC area and hung in the same musical circles. “For years, people told me I needed to sing with Eva because we sounded alike and we both refused to sound a certain 'way,'" Ami says. “We would sing jazz standards one minute in the set, and in the next we'd break out into African chants or Celtic ballads. Eva was a vocal pioneer. She sang what and how she felt, and she inspired other vocalists and musicians. Once you heard her, you never forgot her."

Cassidy was renowned for her song choices, such as “Over the Rainbow," “What a Wonderful World," and Sting's “Fields of Gold"—all of which are covered on the new CD. The duo used Cassidy's arrangements “as a backbone," says Trelawny, “and then we each added our own musical perspectives. Everyone listens really well to each other and plays from the heart. The whole album was recorded in one performance at Kuumbwa; it came together perfectly."

Amikaeyla, a recent Bay Area transplant, regrets that she never had the chance to perform with Cassidy. “After all those years being compared to her, playing with her band and friends, doing the same festivals, missing her by a night, a set, a minute," says Ami, “it seems only fitting to finally get to play with her by playing to her. Eva, my dear—this one's for you."

To Eva, With Love CD release shows by Amikaeyla and Trelawny Rose:

Friday, January 21, Jazzschool, 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, 8:00 pm (510-845-5373). Tickets. Price: $15.

Saturday, January 29, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz, 8:00 pm (831-427-2227). Tickets. Price: $15 general; $25 VIP ticket for early seating (7:00 pm) and snacks; $48 for 2 tickets + CD (save $5).

This story appears courtesy of Terri Hinte.
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