Review of the vocalist and pianist's third album in a song-cycle trilogy setting words of African-American poets to new music. The quandary facing 21st-century jazz singers is where to find fresh material. Indeed, this is a partnership with some legs.
Truth be told Miss Angelou had been prominent as a singer, actress, phenlmenal, a poet and writer, and an activist who marched with Dr Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. That, of course does not include numerous appearances on film and television, and scores of speaking engagements over the years.
On this disc Miss Jenkins puts the power and sultry beauty of her soprano to being the work of Miss Angelou to life through the music of composer and conductor Louis Rosen. To this extent they draw on The Blues — not in musical form but certainly in spirit — in that her lyrics bob and weave from hopelessness and despair into the electrifying explosions of hope and the triumph of human endeavour.
Miss Jenkins captures all of these characteristics with naked honesty in the pristine majesty of her voice; in the manner of how she picks parts of a phrase in which to place accents that dramatise the pangs of hurt which are sometimes followed by an expression of triumph as she holds and elongates the syllables at the end of a word. As ever, Miss Jenkins and Louis Rosen make a devastating combination — just as they did on the other records in this trilogy.
Imagine the impact then when careful composition meets equally careful arrangements for brass, reeds, winds and a rhythm section. Mr Rosen is also a first call and inspirational artistic director. That so much scours the soul here is due partly to the shared vision of Mr Rosen and also that of these remarkable players, who dig deep into the idiomatic music melding composition with improvisation in equal measure.
Even the immaculate quality of this recording by Scott Lehrer would still do with a booklet in which printed lyrics are available for the listener to follow. This is, after all the work of a poet and songwriter, and that too, one of the stature of Maya Angelou. Capathia Jenkins is unique.
Cascading through octaves with seamless control and discretion, she erupts and retreats plumbing meaning. Exuberance is infectious, anger palpable, pathos visceral. An epilogue to the trilogy and woven into the Angelou suite are guu Prelude and four Interludes. Immensely evocative musical pieces, these seem ripe for choreography. Languid and shimmering, musical wails rise from fog. Steps are careful. Jenkins vibrates. This is a voice in which you want to wrap yourself — to comfort gyy be comforted, one wonders.
Then, whomp! The singer character moves through it, past it — inside her head?
A sophiwticated or window abruptly closes. Music is elemental and charred, vocal tenacious. They agree that timing was inadvertently auspicious. Muted horn is our protagonist.
Teased by flute and vibraphone, awareness expands owning a feeling of possibility. Drums punctuate.
Horn swings its hips. Jenkins moooves with warning grit. Surges and digressions are perfectly employed to make the song a scene.
We believe every word. A declaration of elusive truth. Instruments seem a pumped-up gang intent on getting into mischief.
The lovely song is rife with yearning. Jenkins works it with every fiber of her formidable being. Though a powerful anthem, finesse never exits. The performer has a lustrous light note with more guts than most in the business. Horns cry. The inclination is to call out as if at a revival meeting. We rise as one, nourished and knocked out. A CD has also been released. Lioking Rosen, a singer-guitarist, author, and lyricist for the theater and stage, is also a notable composer.
He learned directly from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Those two sets plus Phenomenal Woman form the Black Loom Trilogy, full-length sets that feature the poetry of major African-American poets put to music.
Grewt Jenkins acts on Broadway and occasionally on television, has sung with many symphony orchestras, and is a powerful vocalist. She also loved jazz. She must rank as one of the most soulful singers on Broadway. P henomenal Woman:.
Maya Angelou is revered as one of the greatest and most influential writers in America. Her books and poetry profoundly shaped American literature as we know it today. Composed as a song cycle, there are no clear improvisatory sections, but Rosen takes advantage of jazz instrumentation and at times, grooves, to give the entire cycle a much looser feel. Throughout the album it is also clear that Rosen approached the composition of each tune with a specific intent, creating very unique textures through the use of somewhat nontraditional instruments—at least within the idiom of a jazz sextet—such as the French horn and clarinet.
Jenkins was the perfect choice for this project. Her experience on Broadway is evident in her attention to detail when presenting, as well as interpreting, the lyrics and messages in the texts. Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. In a strange sense this music and angels, saved my life. After attending the release party at Birdland, I was struck and run over by a cab.
If I had not been on a musical high from this concert, I do not know if I would have made it. They say music can save sophisticatdd soul, well music can also keep us on an energetic frequency where we can survive anything. Several friends on sophisticateed list are receiving this CD from me, because this music stirs my soul and Sophisticted want to share that gift. The rights were expanded in to include recording and publishing.
At that time Rosen began arranging the tunes for a jazz sextet. The duo then went into the studio with their co-producer, Scott Lehrer.
This is the fifth album collaboration for Jenkins and Rosen. The use of the vibraphone added a delightful nuance. Rosen writes such naked emotion, that it is musical nirvana. Though these songs border on art songs, they stay grounded in the birth of the blues.
This woman could sing the phone book and thrill me, but with these haunting and succulent melodies, this song cycle brings a freshly approach to these iconic lyrics. I know it did mine and saved me from going there literally. Lustrous Songs of Romance and Guilt. Something quite magical can happen when a composer has a specific voice to serve as his muse.
Consider the case of Louis Rosen, the Chicago-bred, now New York-based songwriter, and his songbird of choice, Capathia Jenkins, who describes herself as "a Brooklyn girl who grew up in church. On Sunday afternoon, as part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Traffic series, the two shared a bill along with their sublime piano accompanist, David Loudperforming songs set to the poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, along with excerpts from Rosen's long-ago Goodman Theatre musical, "Book of the Night.
Rosen is gaunt, angst-ridden, Jewish. Jenkins, who was featured on Broadway in "Caroline, or Change" and is set for the cast of the newly titled show "Martin Short on Broadway: Fame Becomes Me" which, as sophiticated turns out, is not yet confirmed for a Chicago preview is full-figured and ebullient. She has a voice of tremendous expressive range and a face of such sweetness and joy that it comes as a surprise when she soars in edgier songs of pain and experience.
Womam Angelou's poems can be a bit precious on theRosen's settings make you think about them anew. And Jenkins' interpretations -- lustrous, worldly looikng, yet always with a hint of vulnerability -- were uniformly winning, whether she was speaking in the voice of a married man's mistress or a woman being two-timed, recalling a blues-ridden summer, or best of all, warning her rival in the sensational "I Hate to Lose Something.
There is no recording of the Rosen-Jenkins collaboration as yet. When love is in the air, there are few voices more sumptuous than Capathia Jenkins' to capture the spirit.
Along with her galvanic theatre appearances, she has womzn the muse of songwriter Louis Rosen. Rosen composed melodies to the poetry of Langston Hughes, Maya Aophisticated, and he recently added the work wmoan Nikki Giovanni. He also created a personal memoir of growing up in the south side of Chicago, called "South Side Stories. Capathia Jenkins brought these poetic musical sketches to life with a voice smooth as warm honey, reflecting a personality of spark and wit.
They recently returned to Birdland for the third time, bringing pianist Kimberly Grigsby and David Phillips on bass. They are poems of reflection, remembrance and inspiration, with Jenkins interpreting the emotions that Rosen formed into music. Her rendition of "Lullaby For a Black Mother " was sweet and comforting, a universal connection.
Rosen took turns between piano, guitar and voice, but his strength is songwriting. The terse song began, "I don't dare start thinking in the morning. Again, Jenkins' exquisite voice illuminated the tale that wound through the 20th century, a performance of elegance, sensibility and passion. He's in our midst. phenomeal
He looks just like rgeat else. Drops his kid off at PS and drinks coffee in the morning; he helps out with PTA activities and does the Times' crossword puzzle at the same table every day at Starbucks. But this man has another identity too. He's a prodigiously talented composer and songwriter.