by Amad Franaquer Hassan
Pianist-composer Uli Geissendoerfer is the driving force behind the innumerable textures, rhythms and flowing melodies on his latest release Colors. Ranging from the Latin flavored “Tango” to the funky beats of “3-41” to the swing-inspired improvisations adorning “Honey Pie,” originally penned by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Geissendoerfer demonstrates throughout the release his versatility as a leader and his intuitive piano skills, but with all of this dynamism, what takes this project even further is vocalist Pascale Elia.
The underpinning formed by Geissendoerfer’s keys are the foundation for “Intro” as the freestyle stylings of the horns create a vibrant canvas for the chocolate flavored vocals of Pascale Elia. Her vocal tones drip with evocative sensuality, her spot on pitch and rhythm instantly convince the listener Elia’s is truly authentic. The slow and revealing passages of “Tango” are enhanced by Elia’s Latin lyrical finesse. Saxophonist, Charles McNeal’s flavors the track with an insightful, yet burning solo that adds to the voluptuous burn of the track. “3-41” is a jaunty Latin piece with patterns of R&B infused rhythms. Elia uses her voice as a horn like instrument; her attack is strong and confident, truly showing her versatility as a vocalist.
“Norwegian Wood”, another track written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, showcase the complexity in which Geissendoerfer arranges. Elia’s voce is delicately buttoned with her Latin accent, as she brings an account of the famous lyric in a fresh approach, Geissendoerfer’ s arrangement is brilliant., layers of brass tones with the rhythmic shivers of the bass, drums and piano keys moving in en emboldened patch towards delight.
Colors is an amalgam of world music with influences of jazz improvisations and international embellished themes. Sprinkles of R&B/soul, funk, swing, Middle Eastern themes are found in Uli Geissendoerfer’ s compositions and arrangements making for a colorful offering that is invigorating and uplifting with every track. The additive of Pascale Elia, is the ingredient that catapults Colors to a class of its own and leader Geissendoerfer, proves his ear goes well beyond the composition, but also lends itself to being an insightful leader that knows how to choose the right bandmates.
Musicians: Uli Geissendoerfer – piano, Pascale Elia – vocals, Ryan Rose – drums, Charles McNeal – saxophone, Derek Jones – acoustic and electric bass; Special guests: Valeri Giava – violin, Michito Sanchez – percussion, Dafer Tawil – oud and tambourine
Tracklisting: Intro, 3-41, Honey Pie, Tango, Intro to Soulful, Soulful, Lily, Norwegian Wood, Song for Maya, Turkish, Where