"The Manhattan Transfer of the 21st Century." - The Boston Globe
Thoroughly modern, bright and fresh take on ensemble jazz vocals that effectively updates the entire genre." - AllAboutJazz.com
The electrifying, Boston-based vocal jazz quartet SYNCOPATION announced the release of their new CD, WONDERFUL YOU - their first U.S. recording in six years - on Thursday, March 27, 2008. On the new CD, Syncopation reinterprets pop songs from the past 30 years, including songs by Radiohead, Mr. Mister, the Stylistics, Earth Wind and Fire, Joni Mitchell, and piano phenom Hiromi, transforming R&B, soul, folk rock, fusion and electropop with their own jazz harmonies, rhythms and style. Along with singers Aubrey Logan (soprano, trombone), Christine Fawson (alto, trumpet), David Thorne Scott (tenor) and Tsunenori Lee" Abe (bass, arranger/composer), Wonderful You features Syncopation's touring band, Mark Shilansky on piano, Steve Langone on drums, Greg Holt on bass and Marcus Santos on percussion. The CD is available at , and the group's website, .
About WONDERFUL YOU
Breakout" was a hit in the '80s for Swing Out Sister, an English band with some jazz sensibilities, so it wasn't a stretch to modify the tune with a groove from Brazil: samba de paltido alto. Percussionist Marcus Santos came up with the intro, a call-and-response percussion dialogue, in the recording studio, and the result is something you might hear from a street band in Rio. On I Can Fly" Howard Boles's lyrics soar over Lee Abe's peaceful, floating melody. The tension builds gradually until David's tenor voice dramatically takes a turn into a new key. At the end, the calm returns like a feather settling to earth. The arrangement gives each of the four singers a chance to make a statement. Wonderful You" is by world-renowned jazz piano phenomenon Hiromi Uehara, who also happens to be a friend of Lee. He heard the groovy perfection of her tune Big Chill," a bonus track on the Japanese edition of her Telarc recording Spiral, and asked if he could arrange it for Syncopation. After securing Hiromi's blessing, Christine fleshed it out with lyrics. High and Dry" is a song by Radiohead, an inspiration for many independent musicians for its efforts to change the dynamic of the music business. The group also happens to write some amazing songs, including this heartbreaking plea about abandonment. Aubrey goes way up into soprano-land to bring home the message, up and over the wordless dance of the other three voices.
Invisible War" is by Julia Fordham, a UK-based singer/songwriter who is going the independent route these days after having some success on the pop charts in the '80s and '90s. Christine plumbs the depths of regret in Fordham's poignant lyrics, accompanied solely by Mark at the piano. This arrangement is an intimate exploration of a personal message. Broken Wings" was the first single for Mr. Mister. When David was growing up, bands like Mr. Mister made it cool for guys to sing high notes. This arrangement distills the aching feeling of the original by adding atmospheric jazz harmonies, a Tutu"-esque trumpet solo by Christine, and a long, slow buildup to the solid backbeat on the final chorus. The sophisticated 1970s soul music of the Stylistics' Betcha by Golly Wow," with its meter changes and surprising chord progressions, is prime material for jazz exploration. This easy listening hit gets new life with a hard-driving 12/8 groove and a searing vocal solo by Christine. Getaway" is Earth, Wind and Fire's funky masterpiece. Who knew that its dance-floor intensity would translate so well to up-tempo swing? Everyone gets to stretch out and improvise on this barnburner. Both Sides Now" is an examination of life and love by one of modern music's most celebrated masters, Joni Mitchell, who recorded this song at age 26 and again at age 57. The a cappella arrangement features a dazzling solo by Aubrey, expressing both the innocence and the experience of Joni's message.
The Boston Globe calls Syncopation the Manhattan Transfer of the 21st Century," and like that legendary vocal group, Syncopation performs jazz and pop music that is both timeless and up-to-the-minute. These four young singer/musicians affiliated with Berklee College of Music have performed across the U.S. at the 2006 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Tri-C Vocal Jazz Festival, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, the Meihou Music Festival, and the 2004 and 2006 International Association for Jazz Education Conferences in New York City. The group also regularly tours Japan. Syncopation's style includes bebop, Latin, and pop influences. The group performs a cappella as well as with a band, and each of the four singers is also an instrumentalist who is occasionally featured playing trumpet, trombone, piano, and percussion. Formed in January 2002, Syncopation was mentored by Cheryl Bentyne of the Manhattan Transfer. Their first album, A NEW DANCE, was released in 2003 and featured contributions from bebop trombone legend Phil Wilson, formidable jazz fusion trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, and Paul Stiller of the vocal group Vox One. In 2004 the group signed a record contract with Geneon Entertainment in Japan, and their album OF BLUE, recorded in Tokyo with some of Japan's hottest jazz musicians, including pianist Satoru Salt" Shinoya, was released nationwide in Japan in November of that year.
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