Friday, December 21, 2012

Chris McNulty The Song That Sings You Here Challenge 2012

Sometimes life is about explaining the unexplainable. Such is the case with Chris McNulty and The Song That Sings You Here.

The recording, the set list, McNulty's two compositions and the conceptual glue that binds the piece of sonic magic together all took place before her son Sam departed this world far too soon. While the recording was put together three years before Sam's passing there is the remarkable gift that there is some sort of conceptual bond that still lingers which is why McNulty herself was quoted as stating, "I sing for him. I sing him here always."

An eclectic yet incredibly accessible journey finds McNulty's voice immersed in swing and blues and is as raw, real and naturally organic as a vocalist can get. Transcending from traditional "singer" to sublime vocalist or storyteller is an effort but a half dozen singers have done successfully this past year with McNulty shooting straight to the top of the leader board for an incredibly moving yet somehow delightfully entertaining session that will long be remembered after the last note fades out. McNulty doesn't sing from the heart nor the soul, she goes deeper for a rich full bodied effect with an eclectic set list and an emotional connectivity to her audience that is other worldly.

Some singers take dictation and over annunciation to the extreme, McNulty holds true with a natural warmth and an effortless ebb and flow without the typical announcement made by most singers, "Look at me!" No where is the warmth and flow better communicated with the audience than with "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and the 5th Dimension classic "One Less Bell To Answer" with both turned into a master class in performance 101. While The Song That Sings You here is full of some forgotten if not slightly eclectic standards from such artists as Fats Waller, Horace Silver, and Burt Bacharach, there is no doubt McNulty is a fine lyricist with one of her own tunes "Letter To Marta." A more open ended spatial approach that walks a harmonic tightrope of dynamic tension while McNulty's vocal master class would make most singers consider leaving the arts permanently. A slightly melancholy tune that never makes that hard left to the morose, simply stunning. "Long Road Home - The Song That Sings You Here" if you had no reasonable working knowledge of the catalog, one would consider this either a standard waiting in the wings or perhaps a forgotten gem from yesterday.

There is a tightly clustered pack of female jazz singers. Instead of diving into the cold murky waters of the overtly commercial, McNulty swings somewhere between Independent star on the rise and simply a raw honesty that transcends songs. One of the most beautiful vocal records that I have heard in years.

Tracks: How Little We Know; How Are Things In Glocca Morra; Jitterbug Waltz; Lonely Woman; On The Street Where You Live; Last Night When We Were Young; One Less Bell To Answer; Letter To Marta; Long Road Home - The Song That Sings You Here.

Personnel: Chris McNulty: voice; Ugonna Okegwp: bass; Marcus Gilmore Drums; Paul Bollenback: guitars; Andrei Kondokov: piano (4,5,8,9,10); Graham Wood: piano (1,2,3,6,7); Graham Wood: rhodes (10); Igot Buttman: tenor saxophone: (1,3,5); Igot Buttman: soprano saxophone: (4); Anita Wardell: guest vocals (7).

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