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Poetry of Love by Angela Hagenbach

One of the intriguing aspects of Angela Hagenbach’s recent release is its logistics. A Kansas City singer, Hagenbach sure enough does include several tracks on Poetry Of Love, that were recorded there with local talent Paul Smith and Rod Fleeman, members of Karrin Allyson’s group when she lived there, not to mention Roger Wilder, Jake Blanton, Steve Rigazzi and Gary Helm. But that’s not all. Somehow, Hagenbach, as both executive and assistant producer (seemingly illogical until you consider that Bill Crain and Don Braden are listed as producers), managed to include on the same CD New York talent as well, including Russell Malone and James Williams. And Jimmy Heath. And Clark Terry! Suddenly, just as expectations of the type of session to ensue are set up, Hagenbach dashes them.

Yet, Hagenbach, with her straightforward burnished voice, connects on all of the tracks in spite of the changing out of the back-up musicians, as does her overriding theme of love. Michael Franks’ "Tell Me About It" commences Poetry Of Love as a slow samba, especially suited to the sultriness of her voice, the abrupt anticipations of the beat claiming the listener’s attention, even as Hagenbach remains at the same dynamic level. And then on the next song, "I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me," Hagenbach picks up the meter, but also she’s accompanied by New Yorkers James Williams, Dwayne Burno and Russell Malone, who contributes an exhilarating guitar solo.

But unmistakably the highlights of Hagenbach’s CD involve collaboration, as Jimmy Heath makes an unaccustomed appearance on another artist’s CD when he solos on "Never Let Me Go." Clark Terry makes his irrepressible presence known when he affects the entire attitude of "Blues Are Brewin’." Hagenbach adopts her talents to his personality as first CT punctuates the rests in her singing with some trumpeted assertions and then as he breaks into his famous "mumbles" routine, pulling her into the omnipresent fun that’s a component of his personality.

In addition, Hagenbach brings to life a haunting sonnet, "Dark Dreams," which consists not only of suggestive lyrics ("Shed your old clothes anyway/Handle me/Belly up, smooth and slick/Tremble and twitch") but also of a slowly unwinding melody colored by Jake Blanton’s variable accompaniment, which changes moods as the lyrics of the song change as well. "Bittersweet" combines two poems by Hagenbach’s friends into an engaging bossa nova, of, well, bittersweet emotion: "Daylight shadows/Have set low/But your blossoms/Dance orange and glow/As if they were/Embers from the sun/Just the same/How aptly you were named/Bittersweet." In the end, though, after Hagenbach has sung "It Might As Well Be Spring" as an alluring Latin arrangement, her concept is well taken, as she does bring together poetry, both literary and lyrical, with music to form an affecting statement about the nature of love.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Angela Hagenbach
  • CD Title: Poetry of Love
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Amazon
  • Rating: Three Stars
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