Judi Silvano has been riding the crest of various waves, when she hasn’t been riding some gentler zephyrs, for the past decade. Not only has she found time to record her own CD’s, including the highly acclaimed and most recent CD appropriately entitled Songs I Wrote Or Wish I Did,
but also she has, on her own, developed and refined a horn-like singing style on her husband’s, Joe Lovano’s, CD’s like Rush Hour, Celebrating Sinatra
and Universal Language.
Actually, her voice is so
distinctive on these instrumental CD’s that she now owns the style of looping vocal lines that intertwine with those of horns in unconventional arrangements, sometimes of well-known songs.
While Silvano and Lovano work together continuously (in fact, Lovano helped to produce her CD’s, including Riding A Zephyr),
she has carved out her own career, appearing with sidemen of choice at various venues, not just in New York, but around the world. Such a global perspective prepared Silvano for her duo recording with expatriate jazz legend Mal Waldron, he of the multitude of memorable CD’s with the likes of Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Steve Lacy. Waldron hasn’t been absent from the scene, although he has lived in Belgium for decades. Still, it has been difficult for him to maintain exposure in the United States, despite his steady output of recordings in Europe. Nonetheless, Waldron has continued to make a living of music by performing throughout Europe, and just as importantly, he was continued to compose.
The twist of Riding A Zephyr
is that Silvano has added words to several of Waldron’s compositions from the last 40 years, including "One By One," "Flickers" and "Empty Street."
So, from the introductory lilt of "You" (at first a wordless waltz of cascading sixteenth notes and then lyrics like "I planned my life so carefully With dreams that you would someday see Eternity for you with me And hopefully today") to the ending tribute to Waldron ("When you hear the sound of Mal Waldron You know he is a giant of jazz. He played with Lady Day, John Coltrane and Max and all of the rest"), the duo treats its listeners to a stripped-down presentation of Waldron tunes that are deserving of much wider recognition. That recognition will come soon as the two of them tour the United States, allowing audiences to be close up and personal with the artists who obviously connect so well while performing this music.
One of the surprises of Riding A Zephyr
is how brooding, skeletal and impressionistic Waldron’s music is, considering the fact that he accompanied numerous jazz singers and adopted the bebop vocabulary effortlessly for classic sessions. But, like Silvano, Waldron grew up listening to classical music, and some of those influences, including Satie and and Chopin. Indeed, Silvano’s classical influence added even more depth to Lovano’s music. Waldron’s "Finding My Love" creates images of pensiveness and solitude, even before Silvano comes in with the words. His most famous tune, "Soul Eyes," is notable on Riding A Zephyr
not by the mere fact of its inclusion, but by the revelation of its similarity to the mood and changes of Waldron’s other thought-provoking compositions, like the likewise minor-keyed "All Night Through."
Silvano’s distinctive soprano range and Waldron’s mature and non-ostentatious style combine for a notable CD that is quite unlike any other released this year.