Feel The Rhythm, the new CD from Bay Area-based vocalist Daria, is a smooth- & Latin jazz outing that serves up some interesting song choices and arrangements. Daria, with a reported three-octave range, has a clear, sweet, lilting voice that easily transmits her joy of performing to the listener.
On this, her second release, she has chosen songs from many different eras and genres. There are a couple of jazz standards ("All Or Nothing At All", "Moon And Sand"), an Eric Clapton song ("Sunshine Of Your Love"), a Stevie Wonder classic ("Don’t You Worry About A Thing"), a Sting tune ("Fragile"), an Angela Bofill number ("Under The Moon And Over The Sky") and an Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa ("Luiza"), in addition to a couple of originals.
One of the great strengths of this recording is also one of its weaknesses: the arrangements of the songs. They are all meticulously thought out and full of interesting twists and rhythms, but in some cases the arrangements are so busy that they overpower her vocals, in effect preventing the listener from enjoying the full effect of her beautiful voice. I felt that was particularly evident on the first track, "All Or Nothing At All". On the other hand, the minimalism of "Luiza," with its achingly poignant string arrangement, is a perfect frame for her gorgeous Portuguese-sung lyrics. Easily the best track on the album, it is lush and warm, and simply overflowing with feeling and emotion. On some of the other busy arrangements she is able to avoid being overshadowed by the instruments simply by virtue of her excellent rhythmic sense and her unique approach to phrasing. In these cases, her vocals seem to almost exist in a separate dimension, while at the same time being completely in sync with what the rest of the band is doing. It’s a marvel to hear.
Helping bring her artistic vision to life on this album are fantastic contributions from Frank Martin and Murray Low on keyboards, Troy Lampkins, Gary Brown and Saul Sierra on bass, William Kennedy, Celso Alberti and Paul Van Wageningen on drums, Jose Neto, Danny Caron and David Yamasaki on guitar, Marc Russo on saxophones, Alex Acuna, Marquinho Brasil and Michael Spiro on percussion, Wayne Wallace on trombone, Rich Kuhns on bandoneon, Laura Boytz on cello, Joey Blake, Skyler Jett and Ken Okulolo on background vocals and the Turtle Island String Quartet (Evan Price - 1st violin, David Balakrishna - 2nd violin, Mads Tolling - viola, Mark Summer - cello).
Though production and arranging of the songs were split between Frank Martin and Wayne Wallace, you wouldn’t know it to listen to the album. They managed to make it sound very uniform and cohesive, which is not always easy to do in these kinds of situations.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable, very well conceived and executed project by an extremely talented songstress backed by a wonderful band of musicians. It’s a joy to listen to.