Alison Lewis, Seven

by Constance Tucker

No stranger to stages large and small, Alison has performed in venues ranging from intimate clubs in Europe and the United States to the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and Lincoln Center in New York. She spent years touring with the six-woman world a cappella group, Vocolot, as well as singing lead with San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Gospel Choir, several major cover bands, R&B acts and jazz ensembles at high profile events throughout California. Alison was awarded “Best Female Blues Vocalist” on the Garageband website, in addition to “Best Crooner” at the 2009 San Francisco Cabaret Competition. She has shared stages with such notables as Michael Franti and Patti Austin, and sang the national anthem for major sports teams including the San Francisco 49ers and the Golden State Warriors. Her film and television credits include singing with the on-screen gospel choir in Sony Picture’s, The Pursuit of Happyness, and portraying a cantor on ABC Family’s, Chasing Life . Alison has additionally dedicated a large portion of her life to human service projects, both locally and abroad. Much of her artistic inspiration, in fact, stems from some of her unforgettable moments in India, Honduras, and beyond. In 2009, Alison relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles and launched her solo jazz show, “At Liberty,” to much acclaim. She continues to perform live at various clubs, concert halls and houses of worship, and provides session vocals for a number of independent artists, film and video game composers.

Alison’s debut solo release, Seven, features beautifully original approaches on well-known pop and rock classics such as “Blackbird,” and “Like a Rolling Stone,” along with a dapple of jazz classics such as, “Cheek to Cheek,” “Midnight Sun,” and “My Funny Valentine,” all done extraordinarily well and with complete style and sophistication.  Yet, it her originals that stand head and shoulders above most of the female jazz vocalists who are taking a stab at their own material as of late.  Lewis has a knack, an ability to turn a phrase and to make it stick.  A fine example of this is “Mr Right for Right Now,” an excellent example of finely crafted lyric and tongue and cheek wordplay.  Topped off with Lewis’ refined crystalline voice and pleasing 5 octave range, it’s hard not to fall in love with this vocalist’s voice immediately, I can see why Hollywood has caught the Lewis fever.

Another fine original is “Seesaw” an introspective and emotive piece, Alison evokes her full-fledged head voice, there is no lack of control, and her voice is pure and floats atop the melody like a soaring bird taking flight.  She is soulful, convincing and focused, all the qualities you hope for in a vocalist. So many are releasing jazz vocal offerings these days; it is refreshing to hear a true vocalist release a defining album such as Seven.

Seven is a tour-de-force, varied in styles of jazz, what is best about today’s jazz vocal offerings, but taken to task by a highly qualified and potent vocalist.  One I hope to hear for years to come. Well done, and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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