Here’s To Life
is the newest CD by AS IS, featuring jazz guitarist Alan Schulman
and jazz vocalist Stacey Schulman
. The CD is an eclectic mix of tunes that showcases Stacey’s versatile vocal stylings and Alan’s soulful acoustic and electric jazz guitar playing.
Their debut CD, A Love Like Ours
, was a duo project that hit #1 on the Amazon jazz vocal charts in its first week of distribution. This time around, they have partnered with some of the top talent in the New York area, including such Grammy bona fides as producer James McKinney, recording & mixing engineer Scott Jacoby, mastering engineer Emily Lazar, and drummer Marcus Baylor
, who spent many years performing with the Yellowjackets and whose latest release as a leader, The Baylor Project, received a 2018 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.Here’s To Life
is a testament to the creativity and exploratory resilience of artists who refuse to settle for hackneyed tropes. According to Alan, “This CD is not just a vocal homage to the tunes from the Great American Songbook. Through the years, both Stacey and I have grown to love great songwriting no matter its stylistic origins. That’s why we selected, arranged and presented the music on this CD in a way that speaks to the broad tapestry of life experience.” The album also carries a double meaning for the couple who have been navigating Stacey’s 8-year battle with Lyme disease. “Every song on the album is imbued with a special kind of emotion,” says Stacey who has struggled to regain control of her vocal chords. “Fighting Lyme and its impact on my singing has been an emotional fight. Every musical moment is precious and hopefully that comes through when people listen in to the title track, “Here’s to Life.”
Indeed, there are many twists and turns and unpredictable moments throughout this CD, as exemplified by their take on “A Night in Tunisia.” They expand the thematic desert concept of the tune and create an exotic effect by opening with Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and adding Brazilian rhythms performed by master percussionist Alejandro Lucini
, as well as a vocalese choir sung by Stacey along with Christie Dashiell
, Carl KokayI" Walker, and James McKenney.
“It Ain’t Necessarily Too Late for Love,” their medley of Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love,” and Carole King’s “It’s Too Late Baby,” is a delightful and surprising mash-up of a jazz tune from the 1930s, a pop tune from the 1960s and a soft rock song from the 1970s. All three songs are certainly familiar to anyone who listens to music, but it took the duo’s creative, slightly off-kilter perspective to see how they all work so well together. The medley also features Gregoire Maret
, the brilliant harmonica player who has toured and recorded with the likes of Pat Metheny
, Marcus Miller
, and Herbie Hancock
. Maret’s harmonica work is also featured on “Willow Weep for Me.”
Surprises abound on this CD, as in their rendition of Joe Sample’s jazz-funk tune “Street Life,” which spotlights a hip vocalese choir of Stacey, McKinney and Dashiell and is introduced by the tabla work of Navin Girishankar. On Sting’s “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” Alan takes a classical turn on guitar with a nod to Antonio Albanese, while Stacey sings in French with a sultry, almost whispered sound. String sections also add to the sonic textures with violins, a viola and a cello appearing on Barry Manilow’s “When October Goes” and on the title tune “Here’s to Life.” The string arrangements were written by McKinney who also plays the vibraphone on “Here’s to Life.”
Whether the duo tackles pop tunes like “Save Your Love for Me,” Janis Ian’s “Some People’s Lives,” Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” or music by Gershwin or Dizzy Gillespie
, Stacey and Alan Schulman imbue each song with their own highly original musical perspectives.
About Stacey and Alan Schulman
Stacey is a native New Yorker who has been singing professionally since she was nine. She has been an NYC studio session singer for decades and can be heard on radio commercials, television series and movie soundtracks.
Alan is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, who studied with Benny Goodman’s guitarist, Cal Collins. He honed his bebop chops in Chicago with guitarist and educator David Bloom. He has appeared as a sideman with such noted jazz artists as Anita Baker, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Michael Feinstein. Alan holds an M.A. in Jazz Arranging & Composition from Howard University in Washington, DC, where he studied with the late jazz legends, drummer Grady Tate and pianist Geri Allen.Here’s To Life
will be available in stores and online everywhere. Listen to “Street Life” on Soundcloud