June 25, 2013
Three years after her acclaimed debut recording Here With You, the outstanding vocal stylist Annie Kozuch has released a marvelous second albumMostly Jobim. Returning from her first CD are bassist and drummer Saadi Zain and Vito Lesczak, flautist/tenor saxophonist Cecilia Tenconi; and most significantly, Annie’s musical director and pianist, Frank Ponzio, who arranged all of the pieces on this delightful album. Joining into the festivities are acoustic guitarist Sean Harkness and Brazilian percussionist Edson ‘Café’ Aparecido da Silva.Ms. Kozuch, whose extensive background in theater, film and television is further enhanced by her multi-lingual skills, has performed as a vocalist around the world, from clubs and concert halls throughout the U.S. to being a featured soloist with the Tokyo Symphony. On Mostly Jobim, she brings her full palette of artistry to this lovely exposition of one of the world’s most beloved and influential composers, Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim. Nine of the ten wonderful songs are by the legendary songwriter (thus the‘Mostly’ of the title), with the tenth by the highly esteemed Marcos Valle.
There is an intimacy and deeply sympathetic connection among the musicians that provides an always-ideal setting for the highly expressive vocal interpretations. Frank Ponzio’s outstanding piano accompaniment consistently provides a warmly embracing framework. The collaborative familiarity between Ms. Kozuch and Mr. Ponzio is consistently enhancing to each and every offering and her theatrical experience lends a heightened interpretive skill and emotional substance to the compelling stories portrayed by the lyrics, with no contrivance, just straightforward elegance. This is further heightened by Annie’s linguistic talents and connection to her Latin American upbringing, singing here in both English and Portuguese, sometimes both on the same song.
This compelling quality is immediately evident in the dramatic rendition of the album opener Waters of March/Águas de Marҫo, sung in both languages. Deftly constructed upon an emphatic foundation featuring vibrant flute and tension-building piano, the simmering atmosphere smolders into a brightly burning intensity by track’s end. Like the first piece, Wave also features music and lyrics by Jobim, this time sung entirely in English. A serenely lovely song, it’s ideally suited to the heartfelt cry in Annie’s voice, supported nicely by Zain’s deeply wooded bass and also featuring a delicately constructed guitar solo.
Gentle balladry also seems to be the flavor for A Felicidade, but it soon transforms into an infectious Bossa groove, with Harkness’ guitar swirling around the delectable vocal. Sung entirely in Portuguese, this is one of the four songs on the CD that Jobim composed with his longtime collaborator, the highly renowned seminal Brazilian lyricist, poet and playwright Vinicius de Moraes. That same pairing created Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar/I Know I’ll Love You So. It receives dramatically intimate dual-language interpretation by Ms. Kozuch and Mr. Ponzio, with a free-floating rhythmic setting that produces a palpable emotional depth.
The one non-Jobim piece, Marcos Valle’s So Nice (with English lyrics by the noted American lyricist Norman Gimbel) opens with a daringly suspended flute and bass intro that sets the tone for a jaunty expedition. Nicely syncopated and dynamically delivered, it’s further colored by spicy flute and gentle guitar figures.
The legendary jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks (along with Jessie Cavanaugh) provided the English lyrics for Jobim’s classic Desafinado, appropriately bouncy and irresistibly grooved. Annie’s vocal – punctuated by nimble flute lines – is buoyantly playful often lingering in tantalizing fashion just behind the beat. The mood shifts sweetly into the heart-wrenching loveliness of Someone To Light Up My Life (with English lyrics by Gene Lees). Co-arranged by Ms. Kozuch, the lyrics are caressed lovingly, often sustained to draw the deepest feeling from each word. Frank’s accents, Saadi’s long lines and gentle percussion all provide a satin pillow setting for the vocal gem.
One of Jobim’s most popular songs Girl From Ipanema is given a full-bodied rendition, with Annie’s voice ringing dynamically over Zain’s wonderfully bent lingering bass lines and intricate rhythmic support that occasionally punches out a tension-producing bottom of suspended chords.
The album concludes with another pair of Jobim/de Moraes songs. How Insensitive/Insensatez – in English and Portuguese – is a most evocative tour de force. Spanning from breathy whisper to passionate cry, Ms. Kozuch daringly floats around the soft bass and rhythm setting provided by Harkness in rubato time, and the guitarist also offers a superb guitar solo. A complete shift of context is created with Água de Beber, an unabashedly jazzy, unfettered swinger. Featuring nimbly walking bass, brilliant tenor sax obbligatos, brightly syncopated piano and perfectly synchronized drums and percussion producing an absolutely irresistible groove, this delightful album concludes on a most joyous note.
While this album is clearly focused upon the superb vocalizing and charming essence of Ms. Kozuch’s artistry, the sterling musicianship, seamless interplay and utterly empathetic support of the accompanying musicians provide her with all that she could have desired in conceiving this music. With talent so well displayed, Mostly Jobim will delight Jobim and jazz lovers alike. For more information, visit
Artist Website www.anniekozuch.com
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