Maria Guida: Soul Eyes
(Maria Guida Website)
2007 Larknote Records
Maria Guida on Vocals
James Weidman on Piano
Ron Horton on Flugelhorn
Dean Johnson on Bass
Tony Moreno on Drums
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 29, 2010
This CD is disarmingly exquisite, with a vocalist who can actually sing with the barest of accompaniment. Maria Guida has a gem of a voice, and here she sings ballads (“Spring Is Here”), scat improvisations (“Bessie’s Blues”), and luscious love songs (“A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”). Ms. Guida’s notes have a professionally trained quality, and her uncluttered band of piano, flugelhorn, bass, and drums never overwhelms her, but rather envelops her in a mesmerizing musical backdrop. Soul Eyes is a must-have CD for listening at home, in the car, and wherever you go with music. Ms. Guida is a diamond in the rough in a city of aspiring vocalists. It was almost impossible to choose four tracks from 12 gorgeous opportunities.
#2 – Inside a Silent Tear -- Composed by Blossom Dearie – Mariah Blackwolf. This track, with shifts in key and tone, are sung with seamless clarity and soulfulness by Ms. Guida, after Ron Horton’s flugelhorn introduction. Ms. Guida impressively sings with yearning and longing, giving to each lyric power in the moment. James Weidman’s artistic piano accompaniment adds polish.
#4 – Soul Eyes – Composed by Mal Waldron. Ms. Guida’s artful capacity shines here, as she powerfully sings, unadorned. The singers from retro Hollywood films come to mind, with operatic luster in their songs. Mal Waldron, whom I met years ago at Sweet Basil (now Sweet Rhythm), wrote this song, and it is really a song, not just a track. In fact this entire recording is composed of real songs, songs you’ll want to hear again and again, but only sung with Ms. Guida’s scintillating strength.
#7 – Spring Is Here – Composed by Richard Rodgers – Lorenz Hart. It’s almost April now, and this song is timelessly appropriate each spring. Ms. Guida gets out of the way of her musicians here, with long flugelhorn and piano riffs, as she bookends the song with vocal purity. Weidman and Horton play two incredible solos, and this song inspires me to run to the Park.
#12 – A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing – Composed by Billy Strayhorn. This Strayhorn composition is performed with raw romanticism, as Weidman introduces the song for a full minute, before Ms. Guida sings her first note in almost a whisper. The duo performs without further accompaniment, and Ms. Guida takes daring operatic turns on Strayhorn’s existential ballad.
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