I had not heard of jazz saxophonist / flautist Marsha Heydt before her debut CD One Night landed on my desk recently, but I was blown away by her emotive playing, her instincts as an arranger, and her finely tuned skills as a composer. Flying under the Blue Toucan Records banner, Heydt has surrounded herself with some outstanding musicians including, Marlon Simon (percussion), pianist Norman Pors, and a string section comprised of cellists Erik Friedlander, Nioka Kim Workman, violist Anne Marie Bedney and Rob Thomas (violin). Carla Cook’s beautiful vocals also grace this CD.
Heydt has done a good job transferring to the opening track "Good Feelin’" the feelings that she experienced while on a star filled night she surveyed the cityscape. The music is uplifting and the lively Afro Cuban rhythms are enhanced by the magical hands of percussionist Marlon Simon. In contrast, the second song that we hear from On Night is "Green Dolphin Street," with a lighter more ethereal melody, which is complimented by the elegant piano playing of Pors and Heydt on the flute. Strings play overtop of the melody adding more texture.
The real treasure that comes with this booklet of songs is found on the last track "Afrikaan," a Norman Pors composition. Although no mention is made in the liner notes of the individual percussion instruments used it sounds as though bells, shakers, tambourine and perhaps claves are used to create a South African ambience. I never however underestimate the imagination and creativity of percussionists who continually introduce us to instruments from many cultures or often incorporate everyday household items into their music. If you are looking to be swept away on an adventure by some very pretty music, you will want to forward your CD player to this track and start listening here. It may be difficult for you to find this song on a radio station so you better shell out at your digital store now, because you do not want to miss out on "Afrikaan."
Other songs to listen for include a capable rendition of Hoagy Carmichael / Stuart Gorrell "Georgia On My Mind," and "You Don’t Know What Love Is" (Gene DePaul / Don Raye). In the later song, cellist Friedlander creates a plodding movement that lends itself to darker moods. The song’s foundation is built more upon Friedlander’s cello than it is Marc Schmied’s upright bass, but that is more a matter of construction than it is a reflection upon Schmied, who is a very talent bass player. Heydt plays saxophone on "You Don’t Know What Love Is," and Sheryl Bailey who appears on several of the songs from One Night, does a good job on guitar.
Rising young star, Marsha Heydt, who has performed with Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Bob Mintzer and George Gee, gives us an outstanding recording with her debut CD One Night. The album stands heads and shoulders above the projects that many much more seasoned artists are turning out today. You cannot go wrong by picking up a copy of One Night, so what are you waiting for?