Middlehope

Rebecca Martin

Middlehope

Fresh Sound New Talent

Personnel:
Rebecca Martin (vcl), Bill McHenry (ts, vcl), Steve Cardenas (g, el-b), Kurt Rosenwinkel (g), Larry Grenadier (b), Jorge Rossy (d)

Reference: FSNT-118

Bar code: 8427328421188

While in the process of writing and planning another recording of original compositions, Rebecca Martin brought together a special group of musicians to make a recording of obscure standards she for so long wished to create. With the support of Fresh Sound New Talent, "Middlehope" was made on a clear winter's day in January, 2001.

This album has been chosen by THE NEW YORK TIMES' jazz critic Ben Ratliff among the TOP TEN best jazz albums of 2002. Available here in its Japanese edition.


Tracklisting:
01. The Sweetest Sounds 5:35
02. A Fine Spring Morning 3:51
03. The Midnight Sun 6:04
04. Dindi 5:25
05. How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehn? 4:24
06. Bewitched 5:32
07. Then A Wall Came Up Inside Me 3:11
08. One Flight Down 3:07
09. Ridin' High 3:26
10. Where Is Love? 3:26

Total time: 44:01 min.

Personnel:
Rebecca Martin (vocals), Bill McHenry (tenor sax, vocals), Steve Cardenas (guitar, electric bass), Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar), Larry Grenadier (bass), Jorge Rossy (drums).
Recorded at Water Music, Hoboken, New Jersey, January 6, 2001

Engineering by Joel Bluestein, Joe Ferla, Suzanne Kapa, John Yates
Mixing: James Farber

Photography: Lourdes Delgado, Pat Kepic
Design: Ann Peter

Executive producer: Jordi Pujol
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Reviews:

"On her sophisticated third recording "Middlehope" Rebecca Martin {former singer/songwriter of the group "Once Blue" (EMI Records)} has created a warm tapestry of sound that is as dependent on simplicity as it is on innovation. Working with an impressive band: on acoustic bass, Larry Grenadier (Brad Mehldau Trio, Pat Metheny); on guitars, Kurt Rosenwinkel (Brian Blade's Fellowship) and Steve Cardenas (Paul Motian); on tenor saxophone, Bill McHenry (Guillermo Klein); and on drums, Jorge Rossy (Brad Melhdau Trio).

Martin's strong but vulnerable vocals stir up striking variations of passion and irony making "Middlehope" an extremely personal discovery of sound and spirit.

Start with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau's rhythm section, add a couple of fine guitarists and a singing sax player and you have increased your odds for a successful outing in the studio. With a voice somewhat reminiscent of the modern Canadian torch singer Holly Cole, Rebecca Martin has a fine instrument of a voice as well as excellent instincts for choice of material and as mentioned, sidemen. While many of the writers are familiar (Hart, Mercer, Porter, Jobim), she digs a little deeper into the standards book to unearth less performed numbers. One find here is a version of "A Fine Spring Morning," debuted by Blossom Dearie in the late 1950's with the improbable lyric, "bums are getting' bummier, chums are getting' chummier, and yummy lookin' girls are gettin' yummier." Though this recording was done in one day with one band, Ms. Martin's choice of mixing up the players in different configurations from track to track serves the CD well by considerably varying the ensemble colors.

Other highlights include a delightfully rhythmic, off-kilter intro to Cole Porter's "Ridin' High (the only truly up-tempo tune on the album), "Where is Love" (from OLIVER) which has a lovely, contrapuntal accompaniment by guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Steve Cardenas, and a sensual reading of Jobim's "Dindi" featuring a vocal duet with saxophonist Bill McHenry. Finally, there is the languorous take on Johnny Mercer's "The Midnight Sun" that is practically a meditation.

MIDDLEHOPE is a "mellow" affair, but there are plenty of intense and real feelings to go around.

-From the inside liner notes
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From The Artist:

"As with my other two recordings, what has always been most important to me is documenting the music I'm making at that time. Steve (Cardenas) and Bill (McHenry) are my working trio, and together we've been making music for many years. Kurt (Rosenwinkel) and I have worked together extensively in my group "Once Blue" (1993) and played on and off ever since. Larry and I met at a performance we shared back in 1996 (Rebecca and Larry married in 1997).

"Middlehope" was recorded live and documents the beautiful musical conversation we had that day. Being that this is my first album of songs I was not involved in writing, it was a challenge to search outside of my usual process for compositions and lyrics I connected with in the way I do my own. The result, however,is a joyous collaboration that I am very proud of and eternally grateful for."
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"Whether it's singing standards or her own material, Rebecca Martin has the ability to communicate emotion in a direct, head-on way. Her performances on "Middlehope" have a real immediacy and there's a certain urgency in her interpretations that make you sit up and listen.

As a listener, you don't become overly aware of her choice of repertoire on this record, which is why it's so effective. It compliments her voice in such a way that you're not even tempted to draw comparisons. The unique texture and playing of the ensemble that's backing her adds to the wonderfully noncategorizable quality of this record."

-Brad Mehldau


"Rebecca sings with feeling and soul - and always with fantastic intonation. Her take on these songs, from the interesting and beautifully conceived instrumentation that surrounds her to her wonderful interpretation of them is fresh and exciting. I really enjoyed hearing this."

-Pat Metheny


"Rebecca Martin is a delight. I was first introduced to her music through 'Once Blue'... With 'Middlehope', she boldly continues to expand her concept and musical territories".

-Charles Lloyd
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"Take note of Rebecca Martin. With Middlehope, her new collection of ballads, she is poised to win over both folk and jazz listeners.
Martin, a singer-songwriter who has toured with Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris, has a storytellers knack for interpreting lyrics. Like her folk sisters, she naturally settles into the subtleties of a song. Listen to the opening line from the Rodgers and Hart classic "Bewitched." Martin is both young and weary as she sings, Hes a fool, and dont I know it. Her honey-and-whiskey voice delivers a kick to even the most familiar of songs.

Her crossover appeal will no doubt lead to comparisons to Norah Jones, whos been caught in a is she or isnt she jazz debate. The two singers even share a song Jesse Harris One Flight Down. The gentle pop number can be heard on both Middlehope and Jones hit CD Come Away With Me.

While both women blur musical boundaries, Martins effort is a solid jazz album with fresh takes on The Midnight Sun, How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehn? and Dindi. She's already earned the praise of jazz stalwarts Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau.

Recorded in one day, the album features Steve Cardenas and Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitars; Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone; Larry Grenadier, bass; and Jorge Rossy, drums. Middlehope is a gem."

-Donna Kimura (www.jazzreview.com)

Price:

$13.14  (tax incl.)

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