The Sweetest Sounds represents the long-awaited debut solo jazz recording of vocalist Sherie Marshall in collaboration with guitarist Mike Cadó. Featuring primarily an ensemble consisting of vocals, guitar, and acoustic bass, the CD presents a unique interpretation of jazz standards and lesser known compositions in a truly intimate setting. Marshall succeeds in tackling technically challenging repertoire while still infusing her extremely personal and inimitable style.
Although bassist Pat Collins graces most of the selections on the CD, several tracks feature Alan Henderson, composer, bassist, and co-founder of the legendary group Time Warp, and Juno Award winning bassist Andrew Downing. In addition to the trio, the group is augmented by guest soloists on various tracks including the world-renowned Guido Basso on flugelhorn and harmonica, alto saxophonist Andy Ballantyne, clarinetist John MacMurchy, and tenor saxophonist and flautist Patricia Wheeler. Drummer Barry Romberg also provides an array of tasteful percussion and drumming throughout the recording.
The eighteen selections on The Sweetest Sounds represent a wide spectrum of styles including a number of sultry ballads, traditional blues, latin-inspired classics, and hard-swinging standards that are sure to please any music enthusiast. The Richard Rodgers classic, and title track “The Sweetest Sounds” cleverly modulates between a salsa-groove and straight-ahead swing and emphasizes Marshall’s impeccable ability to float over the rhythm section while continuing to interact musically. Guido Basso’s always tasteful musicianship is demonstrated on the swinging “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” which also features Cadó on guitar and Collins on bass. His flugelhorn solo on the lesser-known classic “Blue Gardenia” and harmonica work on Thelonius Monk’s “Pannonica (Little Butterfly)” are absolutely brilliant. Marshall’s exceptional phrasing and feel are complimented by Ballantyne’s elegant alto playing which is featured on the bossa-nova inspired “My Old Flame,” the funky interpretation of “Tenderly,” the haunting Ornette Coleman free-jazz composition “Lonely Woman,” and the beautiful “You Don’t Know Me,” a ballad associated with the late genius Ray Charles. Demonstrating her ability to adapt to any musical situation, Marshall also delivers heart-felt blues renditions of “Baby Get Lost,” a sassy version of the Dinah Washington jump-blues “Good Daddy Blues” and the evocative Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put A Spell On You.” The playful Helen Kane (“Boop-Boop-A-Doop”- girl) classic “Do Something” swings hard after a rubato guitar and vocal intro and features the fiery clarinet of John MacMurchy interacting with the feisty vocalist. Saxophonist Patricia Wheeler contributes her own gentle waltz “(Prayer To A) Child Of Mine,” in addition to exceptionally imaginative arrangements of Henry Mancini’s “Dreamsville,” and Cole Porter’s “All Through the Night” that are superbly handled by Marshall’s stunning ability to interpret the lyric and make it her own.
Despite the multitude of styles and instrumental configurations, this recording succeeds in creating a unified mood throughout which in turn, reflects the extremely versatile talents of vocalist Sherie Marshall. This debut CD captures the essence of Marshall as the consummate performer willing to interact and engage with atypical repertoire while still maintaining a unique individual and intimate style. However, the artistry exemplified in the performances never overshadows the sheer enjoyable listening experience presented on The Sweetest Sounds.