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Barbara Sfraga and Center Search Quest Light Up Satalla

Barbara Sfraga has assembled an impressive group of musicians to perform their unique and soulful compositions. The complex arrangements highlight the many talents of each musician. Regarding the formation of their new, forthcoming CD, which contains many of these compositions, Barbara had this to say,

"Our original concept started when Michael "T.A." Thompson & Mala Waldron surprised me with a bunch of tunes they had written for me. They knew me well, and knew the twists and turns I like to take in the music -with time, groove, etc. When this original material was presented to me, Mala and Michael suggested I write lyrics to anything I resonated with. I did to five of them right off the bat. They had some lyrics penned in here and there, like the hooks mostly. For the most part I kept whatever they had and wrote lyrics around that. Soon after, we began writing in the same room, and completed the rest of the CD's material in those writing sessions. It's amazing how the flow works when we're writing together. It happens so effortlessly!"

Extremely well rehearsed and at the same time leaving plenty of room for spontaneity, the group has much to offer. The band clearly enjoys playing with each other. They also enjoy the music they perform. This allows the listener to do the same.

The evening started with an introduction by saxophonist Allen Won, who was quickly joined by Chris Sullivan on the bass, followed by Michael "T.A." Thompson on drums. Soon after, Barbara and pianist Mala Waldron took the stage. Mala joined Barbara on vocals for the first track, entitled "Be There." Chris Sullivan also sang the refrain, "Everyone has a place in this world", and closed out the tune with some quality improvising on the bass. The next selection, called "Timelessness," featured Allen Won on flute. This tune also contains a memorable refrain, "Time has entered timelessness frozen in time". Both of these selections have a theme central to the essence of jazz, living in the now. They are also both catchy numbers that stick with the listeners long after they end.

The next selection, "Cool Water," was dedicated to Barbara’s sister. During Mala’s piano solo Chris Sullivan played percussion on the side of his bass, creating a distinctive sound. Tell Me, a ballad featuring the smooth gorgeous tones of pianist Mala Waldron, is the tune where the band really started to take flight. The crispness and tightness of the group was evident. From here the group covered a tune penned by Stevie Wonder and made famous by Chaka Kahn, "Tell Me Something Good." A dynamite soprano sax solo and a playful vocal rap between Chris and Barbara were featured.

"Dancing in the Rain," a mesmerizing ballad, showcased the tribal-sounding singing/scatting of drummer Michael "T.A." Thompson and bassist Chris Sullivan. It ended most beautifully with Barbara’s voice being complemented by Allen Won’s flute. The heavy, freewheeling "All Night Long" included inspirational saxophone work by Won and xylophone sounds on a Korg keyboard executed by Waldron. "I’m In The Light" had deep, grooving bass runs and incredible vocals. All of the musicians sang on this piece, with Waldron and Thompson alternating on lead vocals.

An interesting interpretation of Aerosmith’s "Walk This Way" featured Barbara’s stellar vocals, as did the closing number, "Hang On, Fly Home." Barbara’s use of her impressive range and uncanny knack for placing just the right note at just the right moment is testimony to her sensitivity for and understanding of the jazz idiom. Her ability to accomplish this on her own terms, with her own sound and in her own way is what makes her worth listening to. Her new group strives to create something new, something enjoyable, something wonderful and succeeds!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Barbara Sfraga
  • Concert Date: 5/11/2005
  • Venue: Satalla
  • City State Country: New York, New York, USA
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