Hannah Burgé: Green River Sessions
Hannah Burgé, Vocals
Robi Botos, Piano, Rhodes, B3 Organ, Nord
Paco Luviano, Electric and Acoustic Bass, Vocals
Mark Kelso, Drums, Percussion
Hendrik Meurkens, Harmonica
Tony Zorzi, Guitar
Kelly Jefferson, Saxophone
Luisito Orbegoso, Vocals
Jalidan Ruiz, Congas
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2016
This CD is a fusion of Hannah Burgé’s personal commitment to world music, with thematic elements from Africa, India, and Brazil interspersed in her original compositions (5 of 7 tracks). Each track is uniquely arranged and orchestrated, with one just for vocals and piano, and another an edit of a previous track, showcasing the electrically charged effects. The accompanying instrumental trio, Robi Botos on piano, organ, and keyboards, Paco Luviano on bass and vocals, and Mark Kelso on drums and percussion, is joined by the above five guests, each of whom are featured on at least one track. Paco Luviano and Ms. Burgé created all the enchanting arrangements. Lovely, breezy musicality is inherent throughout.
#2 – Be My Love – Composed by Nicholas Brodszky and Sammy Cahn. Hendrik Meurkens, who specializes in the Brazilian genre, plays an outstanding solo, along with Ms. Burgé’s upbeat, lively vocals here. “Be My Love”, usually sung in poignant Broadway style, is, on this recording, a contagious Brazilian samba with a true dance tempo. Mark Kelso’s drums are prominently pulsating with flashes of cymbals, and Robi Botos’ keyboard phrasing adds luscious sparkle. This week, amidst the Olympics in Rio, how fitting to experience this song, plus the samba featured below.
#4 – I’m In – Composed by Hannah Burgé. This track, featuring a Hannah Burgé composition, “I’m In”, is a nightclub-styled arrangement, with Kelly Jefferson swooning on sax. Unlike the sunshiny track above, this midnight bluesy track is deeper in emotionality. Yet, Ms. Burgé’s vocals are luminous in both, and satisfying listening on alternate levels. She is a versatile and talented singer. Mr. Botos keeps the piano pure and driven, with tumbling chords and punctuated keys. The album notes indicate a South Indian influence, and having reviewed live Carnatic music on several occasions, I noted that the sax could have taken the place of the electronic drone, toward the finale.
#7 – Sunshine Samba – Composed by Hannah Burgé. Ms. Burgé’s original samba, that transports the listener to Rio in the moment, is infused with Mr. Meurkens’ scintillating harmonica, with a generous solo interlude, as well. The vocal-harmonica duo is elegant and effervescent. Mr. Botos’ piano solo, as well, captures the fragrance of this charged tonality and tempo. Mr. Kelso goes wild on drums, taking his own solo interlude late in the track. Ms. Burgé’s vocals propel themselves into fragments of Portuguese, evoking a rollicking float in Carnivale.
#9 – Black Velvet, Radio Edit – Composed by Christopher Ward and David Tyson. This track is an edited repeat of a previous track, “Black Velvet”, and, in this version, the electrically charged effects are highlighted to spellbinding sound. Tony Zorzi’s guitar cuts through Robi Botos’ Rhodes, in contemporary motif, following a drum roll introduction. Ms. Burgé’s vocals are over-dubbed for a self-choral effect, and the bass grooves along for the ride. It occurred to me that this piece, if expanded, would be a great score for modern dance.