ArtSpoken & Reviews

Two diverse vocalists and silence from Cape Town

Don Albert
03/06/2014 08:49:51

Jazzaholic by Don Albert: Lauren Kinhan will be a new name to many people, even though she spent the last two decades with New York Voices.

This is particularly so in South Africa, where we rarely see a CD of the group because they are not released here.

Her new solo CD is also not available in SA so one has to buy it on the internet.

From the outset I must say her Circle In A Square is excellent and a lesson in contemporary singing, composing and lyrics. All the tracks have cameo solos from the likes of Randy Brecker trumpet, Joel Frahm soprano and tenor sax, Romero Lubambo guitar, Donny McCaslin tenor sax, Chuck Loeb guitar and Andy Ezrin piano. Mention must be made of the two bassists Will Lee on three tracks, especially “Bear Walk” and David Finck who is top drawer on the other eleven. Even the wordless “Chasing The Sun” is fresh as she uses her voice like a frontline horn with an original view to scatting. I also enjoyed the tango “Chaussure’s Complex” with Gary Versace on accordion. For more info

In complete contrast is vocalist Carol Fredette, who is an important singer but hardly known outside of New York. She’s a master of the American Songbook type singer with the sophisticated hipness of the Big Apple. Her CD is titled “No Sad Songs For Me” named after the song title composed by bassist David Finck, who not only plays on the CD but he also wrote the arrangements and produced it. Just take any track they’re all top class with the emphasis on class, from pulsating Latin rhythms to swing with outstanding soloists from the three pianists Hilio Alves, Dario Eskenazi and Andy Ezrin, Davis Mann sax, flute and alto flute, Tony Kadleck trumpet, Michael Davis trombone, Bob Mann guitar, David Finck bass and Kevin Winard drums and percussion. I’m so glad she has taken the song “You’d Better Love Me” out of mothballs. Other tunes on this 14 track album includes “The Best Thing For You”, “This Is Always”, “Dancing In The Dark” and “Long Ago And Far Away.” For more info or

Now what’s with Cape Town? They had a wonderful jazz venue in the Mahogany Room, it was even mentioned in Down Beat. I have a cousin from New Orleans holidaying in Cape Town who asked me where to go, I told him the obvious, the Mahogany Room. He called me back and said it had closed down. I asked a few people in CT what had happened and never really got a straight answer.

Normally the Capetonians jump up and down praising everything in CT, even the wind, but this time it was, as they say in Yiddish, everyone was ’Shtoom’ (Keep quiet or mum’s the word.)

Now I see suddenly the venue has surfaced as Straight No Chaser (great name. Thanks Thelonious). No reason why the change of name, no information or if it’s the same ownership or not. Nothing, just BAM “We are now open please like our FB page.” No encouragement that it will be there next month or next week, why can’t they say something like we went through a rough time, it’s now sorted xyz has taken over and the manager is abc and we are ready to groove again, as from now?

With the way jazz venues open and close silence is not the way to go.

Don Albert is a saxophonist and jazz journalist. He spent 12 years with The Star Newspaper on the Tonight! section writing about jazz. Currently he writes jazz CD and book reviews for Financial Mail and is the South African Correspondent for Downbeat (USA) and Jazz Journal International (UK). He has presented radio programmes on jazz and served judge at prestigious competitions. He has also won numerous awards.