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Summer Me, Winter Me by Jan Eisen

Jan Eisen has been a performing vocalist for many years, yet this album is unique for her in that it was recorded, as she terms it, the "old fashion way," with all four musicians playing together with the recording engineer as their audience. There is no overdubbing or fixing of voices or instruments, just musicians getting together to play. The album eludes a very relaxed feel that perhaps comes for this type of setting. Eisen’s breathy, sultry style also helps to give the impression of a club scene.

Another reason this album stands out is the music selection. Eisen has chosen some standards mixed with some more obscure vocal tunes. The opener, "Papa Can You Hear Me", is an example of these. Not a commonly heard track, it starts the album out with a unique sound. Special guest Alex Acuna adds to the feel with supporting rhythms on bongos and congas to the rhythmic guitar. Drummer Kendall Kay does some good brushwork on the set as well. But, it is Eisen’s mournful vocals that make the tune.

A more traditional tune, "Darn That Dream," is no less provocative when played in this setting. The bossa nova feel works well for this traditional ballad. Eisen’s vocals are of a higher timbre, giving the piece a more uplifting mood. Bassist Benjamin May gives a great solo as well.

Probably my favorite tune on the album, however, is the title track, "Summer Me, Winter Me." The up-tempo Latin groove keeps the melody going, yet Eisen still manages to give each note her special touch. There is a lot of interchange between her and guitarist Jamie Findlay and bassist May, with her trading phrases with the two rhythm players during the solo section.

As far as the album's goal of having more musical interchange by playing together in a group, this album shows a good deal of musical cooperation. There are, however, some issues with the recording setting. The bass is hard to hear for most of the album, (unless May is soloing, and then you will still want to turn the volume up to hear properly). The drum set can also get lost behind Eisen’s powerful vocals and Acuna’s hand drums, but overall, it is a good album with some good displays of musicianship.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jan Eisen
  • CD Title: Summer Me, Winter Me
  • Genre: Jazz Vocals
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: One Take Productions
  • Rating: Four Stars
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