"Kaylé Brecher is an individualist artist, a one of a kind, and she manages to perform her art and make it very approachable for the listener. Recommended." John Peters, The Borderland
A little Carla Bley meets the Saturday Night Live Band is the underpinning that makes this set fire on all of its cylinders. Wild stuff that takes you far away from the usual jazz diva fare." Chris Spector, Midwest Record
A skilled arranger and composer, Kaylé is more than a singer: she is a complete musical package. Combining an impressive command of her expressive instrument and wide range with artful writing and creative arranging, she enchants the listener with unique inventive settings, vivid subtlety, masterful phrasing and sophisticated lyrics.… There can be no doubt, after one listen to Spirals and Lines, that this is a major statement from a powerful singer-arranger-composer, one who deserves to be heard many times." Scott Yanow
Two decades ago, vocalist Kaylé Brecher emerged on the scene with her first powerful release, Choices, on Penchant Four Records. That album immediately established her as a unique presence in American jazz, both as a vocalist and a singular songwriter. The ensuing years have seen Brecher develop a deep maturity and flexibility, addressing the listener with a broad range of emotions, subjects and styles.
The new Spirals and Lines, Kaylé Brecher’s fifth album release, finds her at the peak of her singing and writing abilities. She is an inimitable interpreter of the human condition, whether it’s evaluating the tumultuous modern era in the title track, the influence of media and propaganda in Will of the Wind, or the joys of the inner spirit in So It Goes, Brecher displays a highly individual command of word and emotion.
Brecher muses, “The material evolved from my curiosity about, experimentation with and investigating of writing for big band, and then how to pare things down for the smaller more chamber-like groups that I love without losing the punch and harmonic buzz (that I also love) from the full orchestrations.” This approach to composition and orchestration gives each track a stand-alone sturdiness that draws the listener intimately inward.
Brecher pushes herself to break new sonic ground with each new recording. “The major challenge I presented to myself for this project was to write in such a way that I could keep the pocket deep and strong without bass while using absolutely no bass or sax on this project - I wanted, basically, a brass project with rhythm sans bass… Brass sounds expresses history so well. As I wrote the lyrics (they came last) I started to realize I had a project that had to do with the passage of time, history, society's evolving nature, and the turmoil of the last dozen years.”
One of the most distinctive features of Brecher’s recordings has always been the musicians with whom she surrounds herself, and Spirals and Lines is no different. A powerful brass choir accompanies her high-range soaring on the title tune, reminiscent of Bernstein’s best. A reinvention of the Depression-era classic Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? – given new meaning in the current recession – is underscored by minimal percussion and Jimmy Parker’s meandering sousaphone.
Pianist David Dzubinski is the sole accompaniment on a blue-tinged, stark, soulful When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Dzubinski, guitarist Frank Butrey and drummer Grant MacAvoy anchor a more traditional ensemble on several tracks, including Charles Mingus’ rarely heard Noddin’ Ya Head Blues. The pro-labor homage High Flying Bird, penned by Americana artist Billy Edd Wheeler, is transformed with a Latin groove and gorgeous, flighty scatting.
The grand flourish on the album is The House I Live In, made famous by Frank Sinatra’s patriotic rendition toward the end of World War II but still ironically pertinent to the 21st century. The track, observes Brecher, “was a labor of love which had me channeling an odd combination of Ray Charles and Jimmy Durante, both of whom I could clearly hear performing the tune, though neither actually did it. I have a reverence for that tune, its melody and lyric, dating from an early grade school viewing of the Sinatra film, and I wanted to find a very new way to set it while still doing justice to the original melody (and without solo, out of respect). I also shuffled and folded the original lyric in with the Sinatra ‘cleaner’ version so that I could use both in a way that was expressive, modern and made sense. Here again, I thought the lyric fit the story line of my entire project, and that piano/voice in just the right place between brass sounds would feel nice in the set.”
Kaylé Brecher is truly a dual force as performer and songwriter who continually reshapes the public perception of jazz and American music. Spirals and Lines is another bright, bold journey down Ms. Brecher’s refreshing creative path." Todd Jenkins