With music, sometimes it’s the songwriting that makes a difference. Other
times, the voices and instruments and how they execute are key. But then
there’s that time when a reworking of what’s written is the focal point.
That’s where vocalist Sylvia Brooks comes in, hiring several Los
Angeles-based arrangers for her third album, The Arrangement
The lineup varies from song to song. Collectively, the
players are: Otmaro Ruiz, piano; Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu, bass; Aaron
Serfaty, drums and percussion; Kim Richmond, alto sax; Bob Sheppard, tenor
sax; Francisco Torres, trombone; Juliane Gralle, bass trombone; Brian
Swartz, trumpet; Ron Stout, flugelhorn; Will Brahm, guitar; Quinn Johnson,
piano; Trey Henry, bass; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Michael Stever, trumpet;
Jeff Driskill, sax; Jeff Colella, piano; Kendall Kay, drums; Chris
Colangelo, bass; Bruce Babad, flutes; Larry Koonse, guitar; Christian
Jacob, piano and Fender Rhodes; Will Brahm, guitar; David Hughes, bass;
Jamey Tate, drums.
Brooks brings warmth and a bit of joy to Hank
Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart.” Rather than wallow in the misery of being
mistreated by a loved one, Brooks sings it with vigor, as a wronged person
turning the situation into a positive, by taking charge. Her scat enhances
Driskell’s tenor solo. The horn section gives a swing feel to the song.
Major kudos to Jacob for the arrangement of “Eleanor Rigby.” His
approach adds an elegance seldom heard in a cover of this Beatles classic.
The flutes and Rhodes provide a haunting quality. Babad’s tenor solo
injects a romantic touch. And Brooks’ voice is charming throughout.
I’m not sure what it is about “Besame Mucho” that so many jazz artists
interpret it. This is easily one of my favorite renditions. Brooks takes
it slow with this Otmaro Ruiz arrangement. The congas give it a Latin
feel, appropriate considering the songs origins. The soft horns add a
Other notable tracks include “Body and Soul,”
“Maybe I’m a Fool” and “The Tender Trap.”
This project came
together with Brooks picking Ruiz, Colella, Jacob and Johnson. She gave
them two instructions. First, they must use a combination of brass and
reed instruments. Second, they could choose the musicians they felt would
best serve the direction of the music. The combination is a perfect match
as the arrangements are fresh and engaging, the musicians are rock solid,
and Brooks’ soothing, charming voice completes the package.
is a native of Miami. Her father, pianist/arranger Don Ippolito, was a
first-call talent who performed with several jazz heavyweights, among them
Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie.
Brooks’ mother, Johanna Dordick, was a conservatory-trained opera singer.
Though influenced by her parents in music, Brooks first took the stage as
an actor. After moving to Los Angeles, Brooks returned to her jazz roots