Sliding Down is a welcome addition to the Stylianou discography, the CD named after the song written by Edgar Myer with lyrics by Stylianou was written while attending a workshop at Banff Centre in Alberta. The song has a beautiful piano intro performed by Jamie Reynolds, very touching. Stylianou performs this song accompanied by a cello played by Kevin Fox, a perfect accompaniment to her lush and smooth vocal renderings. The song builds to a nice climax, teasing, sensual and full of the joy that an adventurous romance in the beautiful Banff Centre surroundings could conjure.
Fox is featured on another pretty song, "Lohengrin" composed by Stylianou and arranged by Ratcliffe and Reynolds. The liner notes indicate that the song was written at the Banff Centre in 2004, with thanks going out to her friends for help in developing the piece.
The first track on the CD is a swingin tune, "Them There Eyes" written by Pinkard, Tracy, Tauber and arranged by Roth and Ratcliffe. The song swings with Stylianou’ feel but is driven by percussionist Alan Hetherington who lays down a Brazilian beat with shakers and low pitched drums, a good time, romping groove.
Stylianou has a smooth beautiful voice; her phrasing is fluid, graceful and inviting. She extends the end of her phrases to create a nice flowing feel. On her new jazz standard, "Blackbird" a Lennon & McCartney hit song, she delivers a wonderful rendition that is quite simply, excellent. Bass player, Artie Roth is playing the rhythm very fast in a higher register and creating a nice upbeat feel. The drummer Hetherington is performing on brushes in fine form, to compliment the vocal phrasing.
On "That Ole Devil Called Love," "East of the Sun" and "All of You" Rob Piltch’ guitar playing on all of these tracks is superlative. He has some great runs, amazing tone and full bright chords that he strings together with next to perfect phrasing. Piltch is one third of a superb trio, along with Davide Direnzo on Drums and Jon Maharaj on acoustic bass. Stylianou is completely at home and at her most relaxed performing these ballads.
The song "Three Little Girls" written by Ratcliffe with lyrics by Stylianou has a Middle Eastern flavour. Kevin Breit on National steel guitar using a slide to create an affect similar to an Eastern stringed instrument sets an eerie mood to the piece . The song has a marching 6/8 feel. I like this songs worldly flavour and the lyrics are enchanting. The beauty hits you right between the eyes, as Stylianou so elegantly puts it in the final verse of the song.
I was fortunate to see Melissa Stylianou live recently, she stopped in at the Pilot Tavern in Toronto as part of a Canadian tour. Stylianou makes New York her home base currently and this was a rare treat to see a future headliner. She was performing with local musicians, Andrew Downing (bass) and John Obercian (drums) as well as Rob Piltch on guitar. She performed most of the songs from the CD; her live performance of the material was uplifting and joyous.