Darmon Meader, Losing My Mind Review
by Constance Tucker
Darmon Meader brings his skills as a jazz vocalist to chronicle his latest album, Losing My Mind. Meader, who is a founding member of the well-known vocal group the New York Voices, is also a working saxophonist, arranger, and composer. Meader is one of those gifted singers who can successfully transfer his knowledge and ability as a horn player to his voice in inflection, rhythm, and note choice. Losing My Mind has this as the central theme throughout the twelve songs and a cast of outstanding musicians. In addition, Meader played saxophones and flute, composed two originals, and arranged and orchestrated the music. Yes, he is a multitalented musician, and Losing My Mind exemplifies his skills across the list.
“Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” is a surprise waiting for any vocal fan. Starting with the Broadway intro, the song’s harmonic pattern and feel are transformed by Meader using all his before-mentioned skills. The horn arrangement is dark and moody, as Meader’s voice carries the theme with variations, power, and control. The mini big band plays passionately as Meader’s soli section leads to his amazing scatting through the harmony. One can easily hear all the changes in his vocal lines as he executes them with horn accuracy. Trumpeter Scotty Barnhart plays a beautiful solo too. Meader’s vocal climb to the cadence is terrific writing and singing.
Meader is joined by the New York Voices for a beautiful rendition of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.” Along with Meader, the New York Voices are Kim Nazarian, Lauren Kinhan, and Peter Eldridge. Hearing the vocalist harmonize is stunning. Meader takes the lead as the vocal quartet both harmonize and provide contrapuntal and harmonic passages. In addition, the full horns are written to support both the vocal harmonies and Meader’s leads. Meader’s arrangements are anything but standard. There are multiple sections and various features for the voices and instruments as the song builds like a mini-suite. As a vocalist, this is the stuff that gets me juiced!
Losing My Mind is Meader as the featured vocalist and tenor saxophone soloist, composer, and arranger. To capture all this creativity, longtime NYV collaborator and friend Elliot Scheiner added his mixing expertise. This is a jazz vocalist must-listen, and instrumental jazz fans will also find Losing My Mind equally rewarding.