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September 2, 2006

Jazz Vocal CD Release / Sara Hamilton and David

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz CD

CD Review / Jazz Vocal
Sara Hamilton and David
Let The Music Move You
Indie / 2006

Sara Hamilton and David’s new CD Let the Music Move You, is proof positive the adage ‘quality stands the test of time’ rings true. The talented duo are jazz vocalists/musicians, and have released a stunning jazz retrospective and glimpse into their personal musical journey. In the process, the two have also created a a rare treasure of Canadian jazz music history, putting it together in one delightful package that will capture the ears of all music lovers.

The CD features thirteen tunes in the mainstream tradition with a fine mix of classic and original composition. Such gems as Carmichel’s “Baltimore Oriole”and Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow” fall seamlessly together with Sara and David’s originals such as Sara’s “Don’t Wanna Play No More, and David’s “Life”, the artists and their compositional works not only sitting in the genre but downright describing it.

Hamilton and David split lead vocal duties (although Sara takes the lion’s share) and also deliver delightful harmony and two-voice performances. The first ten tracks are taken from a series of Toronto studio dates during the early 80’s, and were produced by the legendary Phil Sheridan, known as an innovator in the recording industry. With pianist David leading the rhythm section of bassist Dave Young and drummer Brian Leonard, the artists are joined by the creme of Toronto’s jazz horn elite with soloists Guido Basso (flugel), Rob McConnell (trombone), and Gene Amaro (saxophone) making appearances. Sara provides the finishing touches with her flute performance on two of the cuts. The balance of the tracks include a New Year’s Day session with trumpeter Jack Sheldon, bassist Dave Young and drummer Jerry Fuller; a cut featuring the acclaimed Boss Brass performing Rob McConnell’s arrangement of Sara and David’s co-composition “Life,” and the final and title cut “Let the Music Move You,” written by David and taking a different direction musically from the rest of the album with it’s funky groove anchored by guitarist Earl Marek and drummer Stan Perry as they accompany the vocalists as they chant an hypnotic “Let the Music Move You.”

Sara Hamilton’s voice is a divinely husky, rich contralto that effuses warmth and intimacy. A masterful storyteller, her laid-back delivery is smooth and flawless, leaving tons of breathing room to create the perfect balance of tension and release that melds with her combined elements of delicacy and strength. She is an accomplished soloist, her lines lyrical and graceful, adding an elegant charm to the overall sound. David’s piano is the cornerstone of the sound, inspiring the hard swinging feel that is the mark of this recording, and the backbone for the guest musicians to build their dynamic presence upon. He has a knack for nailing the pocket, his solos punctuating the space and providing the perfect textural compliment to the vocals. David sings with similar sensibilities as his playing, clean and melodic, his raspy voice bringing the vocal line to life as skillfully roams over lead and harmony lines, his solos forming around the harmonic shapes of his piano. The duo’s signature is found in their intricate vocal dance as they perform their harmony and unison work, the timbres of their individual voices an ideal pairing.

The various musical configurations that came together to make up this recording form the who’s-who of Canada’s jazz scene, the leaders of today who played an important role of the development of the genre. Included with the CD are extensive liner notes and rare photos contributed by Sara Hamilton and David that serve both anecdotal and archival purposes, preserving and documenting the development of Canadian jazz.

This is a hard swinging, feel-good recording that deserves wide airplay and a nod of recognition for it’s top-drawer performances. Making as strong a statement as the day the tracks were born, Sara Hamilton and David’s Let the Music Move You is a true classic. Recommended.

Reviewed by:

Cindy McLeod
www.jazzelements.com

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