Sunday, October 1, 2017

Musique Noire's "We Breathe"

The sustained oxygen in ones lungs assures perseverance. We breathe.... Musique Noire open their latest album with a vibrant interpretation of Nina Simone's "Four Women," springing forth from the indefatigable spirit of its lyrics and suturing a sureness and empowerment from its outset, a theme and an energy that will continue throughout. Mesmerizing vocals and sinewy/smooth strings set the stage for what will be a venturous and stylized album that celebrates women warriors, while combining vibes, rhythms and signature phrasings from all over the world.

Musique Noire

This quartet of veteran jazz/classical music stylists have been together for 12 years, based between Detroit and Chicago. Their album release show is this Friday, (Oct 6th) at Music Hall's Jazz Cafe, (more info). The album is far from a typical jazz, soul or R&B production, and instead of an entrancing odyssey that excavates and enlivens myriad emotions unique to that extra perseverance aforementioned that women warriors before them, like Simone, Alice Coltrane, Eliizabeth Catlett and Eileen Ivers utilized to make their own marks upon the legacy of those musical genres.

The ribbon-like kite gust of "Ibelec's" primary melody is indelible and carries you away. The Spanish guitar flourishes of "Whiskey & Sangria" are transportive and given extra evocation by the taut expressiveness of the strings. "Reflections" slows the tempo and all but takes it away for a nocturne of quiet contemplation until it can't help but burst just past it's 1-minute mark with ebullient symbols and a minimalist guitar giving nice augmented radiance to the impassioned strings. The bass can shine on the groove-centric "We Breathe," which closes things out with a poignant spoken-word performance by violinist Michelle May. "If you look in our eyes, you see our wisdom / our survival / our trials.... Our triumphs."

The groups core, May on violin, Leslie DeShazor Adams on viola, Leah Lucas Celebi on viola/violin and JoVia Armstrong on percussion, are featured throughout the album, along with several guests like Marion Hayden on bass and Elden Kelly on guitar. Each member takes on production roles with different tracks and is each trade off as lead arranger from piece to piece.

It's an inspirational listening experience, and should make for a terrific evening at Music Hall's Jazz Cafe.

"We carry the world / and we breathe through it all / yes, we breathe"

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