Multimedia artist Carmen Lundy charms and pleases with
her latest offering, Code Noir (Afrasia Productions, 2017).
Lundy sings, plays piano, keyboards, acoustic
guitar, and handles string programming and background vocals. Performing
with her are Patrice Rushen, piano; Ben Williams, acoustic bass and
electric bass; Kendrick Scott, drums and percussion; Jeff Parker, electric
guitar; and Elisabeth Oei, background vocals on “The Island, The Sea, and
“Black and Blues” is a statement against police brutality and
the systemic protections of officers who kill without justification. The
music has an angry quality to it, from Rushen’s piano chords to Scott’s
work on the kit. “Killed another brother from – another mother,” Lundy
“Afterglow” is a lively, romantic piece that shows Lundy at
her jazziest. Her phrasing, shifting from loud to soft, one can hear hints
of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
Code Noir gets its
name from the first national law to make illegal the integration of
Africans into white, European society. The law was signed by the king of
France, Louis XIV. Lundy says the album partly reflects that African
diaspora and its influence on genres, bossa nova, jazz, blues, swing, funk
and avant-garde. “Yet they also encompass the many emotions that are
prevalent in this country right now,” she says. “We are going through
tough times with a country that is sorely divided, and many of these
tracks reflect the feelings that we as human beings are going through on
an individual level.
Among the songs that reflect the latter are
“Another Chance,” “Live Out Loud” and “Whatever It Takes.”
musicians are rock solid throughout the set. They complement one another
perfectly, whether playing as a unit or stepping out on a solo. But this
offering is mostly about the beauty of Lundy’s songwriting and the
inspirations to live, to love and to stand up for doing what’s right that
are present in her lyrics.
Lundy composed 10 original songs for
this work, and co-wrote “Another Chance” with Julie Raynor. She began her
career in Miami, Florida, at a time when there were few young, gifted and
aspiring jazz vocalists on the horizon. Over four decades, she has firmly
established herself as one of the genre’s more prominent figures. Good
Morning Kiss, her debut album, held the Number 3 spot on Billboard’s
jazz charts for 23 weeks. In April 2016, she was honored with the Lifetime
Achievement in Jazz award by Black Women in Jazz and the Arts, based in
Atlanta. And the Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Board of County
Commissioners proclaimed January 25th “Carmen Lundy Day,” along with
handing her the key to the city of Miami.
Lundy’s stage and studio
associations include Ray Barretto, Kenny Barron, Bruce Hornsby, Mulgrew
Miller, Terri Lyne Carrington, Courtney Pine, Roy Hargrove, Ron Carter,
Marian McPartland, Regina Carter, Geri Allen and many more.
Code Noir is her 15th album.