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  Home arrow CD/DVD/Book Reviews arrow Anna Maria Flechero: Within the Fourteenth Hour
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 Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Anna Maria Flechero: Within the Fourteenth Hour PDF Print
Written by Carmel DeSoto   
Sunday, 29 June 2008

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Within the Fourteenth Hour
 

Vocalist Anna Maria Flechero is the product of a culturally rich heritage and a vibrant musical environment. Born in San Francisco of African American and Filipino ancestry, she learned to play piano by ear as a youngster, writing tunes and lyrics that reflect the influences of the sounds of Motown and the Latin rhythms of her Mission District. Moving to Japan, Flechero honed her skills as a solo artist, accompanying herself on piano, composing and performing original songs and interpreting jazz standards. While in Japan, Anna Maria met legendary pianist Cedar Walton, who provided opportunities for her to perform with his trio. It was the beginning of a long-standing musical friendship.

Now in 2008, after hundreds of performances and years of creating her own personal style, Flechero once again had the opportunity to coordinate with Walton on her self-produced sophomore release, Within the Fourteenth Hour.  This soulful recording features 10 well-placed pop and jazz standards with a bonus track being an original Flechero cut entitled “Pretty Soon.”

The journey begins with the classic standard “Misty,” fashioned into a swinging up-beat track that is personified by Flechero’s distinctive voice and R&B inflections.  This track features the incomparable Cedar Walton, David Williams and Lewis Nash.  Their symbiosis is evident from the first notes, clearly articulating an atmosphere of interaction and chemistry.  The first “A” features Williams and Nash trading rhythmically active phrases, while Walton’ s solo lines dance atop, creating interest and bounce within the spaces of Flechero’s vocals.  This symbiosis allows Flechero to command the cut with playful passages and confident scat lines that clearly punctuate the setting as being a true jazz cut.

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Anna Maria Flechero
“What A Difference a Day Makes” has a Smooth Jazz/Latin overtone, extremely cross-over in nature, that shines a new light on this Grever/Adams classic, transporting you to a sunny beach with cocktails, friends and good times.  Flechero’s breezy vocals and phrasing allude to Jamaican flavors, a playful summery cut that gets you ready for the weekend.  This track features Jeffrey Chin (piano), Ron Smith (guitar), Nelson Braxton (bass), Billy Johnson (drums), Melecio Magdaluyo (sax), and the bus-driver to this track’s instrumental flavor, Karl Perazzo (percussion).  The ensemble provides a relaxed samba feel over which Magdaluyo plays a melodic and thoughtful solo.  Flechero adds nice vocal ornamentations to the last statement of the melody and the vamp out.

The Cedar Walton Trio guests once again on “God Bless the Child,” creating a strong traditional jazz interpretation of this Billy Holiday standard.  This cut gives us the chance to see an intimate, more serious side of Anna Maria’s vocals as she conveys a storyline of honesty and sincerity with each passing phrase.  Walton’s trio creates a metric modulation within the solo section, creating a nice texture change within the cut.  Flechero sells the track to the final low note while Walton, Nash and Williams delicately punctuate the final outro.  
 

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Anna Maria Flechero
Anna Maria’s incomparable voice creates a voyage from start to finish, each song having its own specialty and flavor to truly create a diverse passage from track, to track, but it is in the final cut, “Pretty Soon,” where we get a full view of Anna’s abilities as a lyricist and composer.  Her lyrics convey a story of one who has lived through many facets of life, including the death of a loved one.  It is a song of devotion, strength and endurance.  Musically, Anna Maria has created a beautiful composition that is texturally stunning and harmonically rich.  Within the Fourteenth Hour is a CD worth adding to any music aficionado’s CD collection. Whether your desire is jazz, island, smooth-jazz, Latin, nu-soul, old soul or to heal your soul, this is the CD for you.  Take the journey Within the Fourteenth Hour.



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New and Notable
Tri-Fi's "Staring Into the Sun": Contemporary and Personal
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

ImageOriginally coming together as the rhythm section for vocalist Curtis Stigers, pianist Matthew Fries, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Keith Hall branched out on their own ten years ago as "Tri-Fi," and are now celebrating a fifth recording,  Staring Into the Sun (2014). "We knew we had a special musical connection and wanted another outlet to develop our own music as a trio: music that is contemporary and personal, while still deeply rooted in the tradition of the classic piano trios," they explain in the album's liner note. They have met their goal on each outing, but perhaps never more elegantly than on Staring Into the Sun, which they funded through Kickstarter.

The album includes ten tracks of all original compositions, six from Fries and two each from Palombi and Hall. They start of with Fries' "Open Water," a lightly swinging, upbeat tune that introduces the telepathic communication among the trio. Palombi's solo brings a bit of apprehension, yet still hopeful. The bassist contributes a more joyful solo to Fries' festive "Circle Dance." The pianist's "Clockwork" is reminiscent of compositions for Lynne Arriale, as he engages himself in two and even three-way conversations like a mini-travelogue, while Hall's continual punctuations keep your ears wondering, what's next? Fries describes his "Airstream" as optimistic, and it is indeed upbeat, laid-back, playful and bluesy, like Keith Jarrett on a bright day; Palombi adds a bouncy solo. One of the album's most exquisite tracks, Fries'  swaying "The Night Watch"  has an old fashioned ballad feel, while Hall kicks up some fine sonic dust.


Phil Palombi contributes the beautiful "Cielo," featuring bass and piano in counterpoint, generating a pastoral ambience. Palombi's title track starts with a distant drum rumble and sparse piano lines, then builds momentum like an adventure tale, while the bassist's solo adds fine details to the storyline.  With "Song for Butterfly," Drummer Hall provides delicate patterns in a slow meandering ballad, with Palombi setting a steady pulse from the deep end of the bass. Hall's "Josie Bebop" --dedicated to his daughter--is as loose and playful as his previous composition was delicate.


The album closes with Fries' "Compassion," starting with Hall's regal percussion as if a funereal ballad, as if written to honor a friend or mentor's recent passing. Palombi's mournful solo is one of the album's instrumental highlights. This track--indeed the entire album-- is as good an example of trio communication as one can find in the modern piano trio canon, with each instrument contributing significantly to the impact of the whole. The pieces just fit together perfectly.


Staring Into the Sun is available from CD Baby or the Tri Fi website (tri-fi.com)




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New and Notable: Chip Stephens Trio, "Relevancy" (2013, Capri Records)
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

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Relevancy
I first heard Chip Stephens and his amazing piano playing on a deliciously groovy two-disc CD of famed trombonist Curtis Fuller, titled I Will Tell Her (2010), which I reviewed for L.A. Jazz Scene and Jazz Police website as well.  What stood out about Stephens' playing on several selections from this CD were his amazing, incredible piano runs and his beautifully full chordal voicings.

That work is continued on his latest CD, Relevancy, one of the best, in my opinion, from 2013.  His trio is made up of bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Joel Spencer, all sturdy and excellent performers who have been working together a number of years.  There are eight tracks on this CD -- three original by Stephens and five other very well picked selections.  One of my favorites is Stephens' “C Hips Blues,” ten minutes of some great chords, piano lines and groovy solos from all of the trio members.    Two more originals (and excellent) are “A Day in May,” and “Somewhere Before the End.”  Two better known tunes are “34 Skidoo” (by Bill Evans) and Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love.”  The CD begins with a perky number by Carla Bley, “Syndrome,” that gives the trio a real workout and defines each musician’s strength, especially in their solos.    This CD is one that affords the listener lots of exceptional jazz from Chip Stephens Trio from Capri Records: www.caprirecords.com

Reprinted from L.A. Jazz Scene, July 2014 issue



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