Andrea Wolper | The Small Hours

Andrea Wolper, vocal | Ron Affif, guitar | Ken Filiano, bass | Victor Lewis, drums (# 2, 4) ] | Jamey Haddad, drums (#7, 9, 11)  | Frank London, trumpet, flugelhorn | Lou Marini, flute | Todd Barkan, producer.

Recorded 2002 at The Studio, New Yo Katherine Miller, engineer Eiji Takasugi, assistant engineer.  Mastered by Todd Gerard, Gerard Sound Lab. Photography by Michael Kee and Jimi Wunderlich ( Layout by Jimi Wunderlich, B1TWO)

Tracklist: 1. Dancing on the Ceiling (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) Harms Inc. (C) Warner Bros. Inc. & Williamson Music Co. [5:34] 2. You and the Night and the Music (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) Harms Inc. & A. Schwartz Music Ltd. (C) Bienstock Publishing / (C) Carlin America Inc. [5:16] 3. Gray, Not Blue (Andrea Wolper) dedicated to Randy Riddoch (1961-2001) (C) 2005, Menue Comm. [4:12] 4. Night Time Was My Mother (Connie Miller, Arnold Miller) (C) copyright controled [4:48] 5. Crazy Love (Van Morrison) Caledonia Productions (Caledonia Soul Music Div.) & Warner Brosthers Music Corp. (C) Warner Bros. Inc. [3:54] 6. Rendezvous in Providence (Andrea Wolper) (C) 2005, Menue Comm. Poem, “Rendezvous in Providence,” by D. Nurske; used by permission of author. Thank you, Dennis! [5:21] 7. Today (Randy Sparks) EMI Miller Catalog Inc. (C) EMI April Music Inc. c/o EMI Music Publishing [4:47] 8. Not Sleeping in Your Arms (Andrea Wolper) (C) 2005, Menue Comm. [6:31] 9. Little Suzie’s Humming (Vince DiCicco, Cathi Walkup) (C) Flying Weasels Publishing [5:51] 10. Moanin’ (Bobby Timmons, Jon Hendricks) (C) Second Floor Music [5:38] 11. Small Day Tomorrow (Bob Borough, Fran Landesman) Cromwell Music (C) The Richmond Corp. [7:15] 12. I Like You, You’re Nice (Blossom Dearie, Mahriah Blackwolf) (C) Blossom Dearie Music. Arrangements by Andrea Wolper [3:11]

One of the best things

about releasing a CD is it gives one the opportunity to express gratitude to the many people who’ve helped along the way. I have to start with Ron and Ken, without whom this would surely be a very different CD. Playing music with them—not to mention hanging out between sets—is just a hell of a lot of fun, and they both continue to inspire me more, I’m sure, than either would imagine. Victor, Frank, Lou, and Jamey all have unique voices that we wanted on the date, and they all jumped right in, fully and generously. I’m grateful to each of them for their special contributions. Todd brought not only his expertise as a producer, but also respect and openness, as well as a belief in the project that really made a difference. Thanks also to Katherine Miller, whose great technical skills are matched by great ears, and to Todd Gerard for his excellent work and sensitive approach.

Thanks to Jimi Wunderlich, who offered to listen to the CD in order to help me find a home for it. . . and then decided to give it one himself. Numerous people contributed in various and valuable ways, and I thank them: Brace Crowther, Michael DeNola, Larry Johnson, Derek Kwan, Mark Lopeman, Queva Lutz, Linda Presgrave, Daylle Deanna Schwartz, Barbara Sfraga, Susan Volchok, Cathi Walkup, Carol Ziske. Through the years, teachers and colleagues have made lasting contributions to my musical evolution, and I’m grateful to them: Dominique Bade, Michael Hcsvell, Rebecca Kane, Tim Lyddon; enormous, can-never-say-it-enough, thanks to Anthony Bellov and Connie Crothers.

I’m more grateful than a few words can adequately express for the support of a steadfastly loving family and for my amazing friends, all of whom give me so much, including the invaluable gift of caring about what’s important to me simply because it is. This is for them. And of course for Ken, because of everything. — Andrea Wolper

andrea wolper | the small hours | varisone.jazz

The best jazz singers

not only have an attractive voice, sing in tune, and display the ability to swing at any tempo, but also have a sense of adventure, the desire to stretch themselves and the willingness to constantly take chances. They show subtlety while often hinting at an inner heat that is just beneath the surface. And while paying respect to the melody of the composer and the words of the lyricist, they possess each song and make it their own.

Andrea Wolper has all of those qualities. Although she has been performing regularly in the New York area and across the country, she will be a new name to many listeners. However, the release of this CD should result in her gaining quite a bit of recognition for her creativity.

In 1994 Andrea began singing jazz in NYC and in clubs along the east coast. In 1998 she met the key musicians on her new release, bassist Ken Filiano (who would later become her husband), and guitarist Ron Affif.

“I met Ron and Ken on the bandstand, when they subbed on different gigs of mine. Ken was first, and I realized pretty quickly that he’s so musical and creative, he opens up all sorts of possibilities for the bass and for the music itself. I met Ron several months later, and from the first moment we played together I not only heard something different, I felt it. His music is very honest, and he plays with an energy and intensity I love.” Unknowingly, Andrea reunited Ron and Ken, who had played together several years earlier in Los Angeles, and the three evolved into a trio. “A lot of people talk about instrumentalists ‘backing up’ singers, but I never think of it that way. We’re making music together, influencing and playing off of one another. That’s really what it’s all about.”

While the trio is at the core, an enviable roster of guests leaves indelible imprints on the final result. As Andrea puts it, “I feel the presence of Victor, Jamey, Lou, and Frank so strongly. I love what they contribute not only the tracks they’re on, but also what each adds to the overall feeling of the recording. It just wouldn’t have been the same without any one of them.”

Andrea recorded her fine self-titled debut in 1998 and has made a few guest appearances on other CDs but her new release is by far the best documentation of her musical talents thus far. Each of the selections (all of which she arranged) is full of adventure and includes its share of musical surprises.

“The Small Hours” came together in three sessions. Opening the program is the 1930s standard “Dancing On The Ceiling,” which is taken at a slower tempo than usual. Andrea’s vocal is soulful, conversational and sensual, while the playing of Affif and Filiano is both sympathetic and modern.

“You And The Night And The Music” is given a particularly unusual treatment. The trio is joined by trumpeter Frank London, flutist Lou Marini and Victor Lewis, who on this performance plays his drums with his hands. “Several years ago Ken suggested this song to me. For some reason, my immediate reaction was negative, but then I decided to try it, and I loved it. By the time we recorded, the arrangement had evolved from something pretty straightforward to what you hear on the CD. Todd really encouraged us to go deeper and deeper into the essence of the song. We’re all improvising at the same time; it took a lot of trust on everybody’s part and a willingness to jump in.” Andrea begins the piece with some wordless eastern-influenced singing, with the other musicians adding to the eerie atmosphere before the song gradually appears in dramatic fashion while sticking to the original mood.

Andrea’s original, “Gray, Not Blue,” gives the trio an opportunity to dig into the blues. “Night Time Was My Mother” is an obscure tune that Andrea found on a June Christy CD. “I think it’s gorgeous; I wish I’d written it! It’s different, and all the elements work beautifully together.” The quiet muted trumpet of Frank London adds to the melancholy feel of this unique piece, which is full of longing, loneliness and dark thoughts.

“Between the first and second recording sessions, I turned on the TV and heard Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love’ on a commercial. I’d forgotten about this song, but suddenly I had to sing it. The original harmony was pretty basic, so I tinkered with it a bit and made a little arrangement.” Andrea’s version fully conveys the joys of “Crazy Love” while still leaving much to one’s imagination.

“Rendezvous In Providence” is an unusual performance, a haunting duet by Andrea and bassist Filiano, using the words of a poem by D. Nurkse. Although when she wrote the music, she didn’t envision it as a duo, “it’s such an intimate poem that when we started to put it on its feet, the duo felt just right.”

“Today” is a reworking of the New Christy Minstrels hit. “A few years ago I went to hear Tommy Flanagan at the Village Vanguard, and in a solo on ‘Just The Way You Look Tonight,’ he kept quoting phrases from ‘Today,’ which stirred up the song from the dark recesses of my memory. When he played it, it swung, and I was inspired to write my own arrangement.” After starting out as a ballad, “Today” cooks at a medium-tempo pace and becomes quite optimistic, giving the quartet (with drummer Jamey Haddad) an opportunity to stretch out a bit.

Andrea’s “Not Sleeping In Your Arms” could possibly become a future standard. “Little Suzie’s Humming” has lyrics by the San Francisco Bay Area singer Cathi Walkup. “Cathi writes wonderful lyrics, and this look at childhood works so well with Vince DiCiccio’s music. I like singing love songs, but it’s refreshing to have a song about another aspect of life.”

The final three songs are all standards that are given very different treatments. Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin”‘ became famous as a struttin’ soul jazz romp played by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

One day while playing it on piano, Andrea slowed it down drastically and found something in the trance-like feeling that resulted. She spontaneously suggested at one of the recording dates that the trio give it a try and the group’s first attempt was so successful that it is on this release. “Small Day Tomorrow,” by Bob Dorough and Fran Landesman, has always been a memorable song, expressing universal sentiments in an unusual way. Ending the impressive program is Blossom Dearie’s “I Like You, You’re Nice.” “For years I’d imagined it as a voice-guitar duet. I love this song. It’s like a quirky, perfect little surprise gift.”

Andrea continues performing regularly in New York and across the country, as well as around the world. As for the future, “I want to keep following my curiosity, getting more and more deeply into the music, and to be an increasingly courageous and generous musician.” Her musical courage and generosity are very much on display throughout this enjoyable and continually surprising program, a giant step forward in the career of Andrea Wolper. — by Scott Yanow

Scott Yanow

is one of the most prolific and widely respected jazz journalists in the business. Yanow has written eight books on jazz including “Jazz On Film,” “Duke Ellington,” “Swing,” “Bebop,” “Afro-Cuban Jazz,” “Trumpet Kings,” “Classic Jazz,” and “Jazz On the Record: 1917-1976.” Currently he is writing, “The Jazz Singers.” He has contributed regularly to Jazziz, Cadence, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Coda, The Mississippi Rag, Jazz Forum, The Jazz Report, Planet Jazz, Jazz Improv, The Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and virtually every other significant jazz magazine. He has been an important contributor to the All Music Guide To Jazz and the All Music Guide website (allmusic.com). It is believed that he has now written more jazz record reviews than anyone in history. In addition, Yanow has penned over 400 liner notes, and produced a jazz reissue series for Allegro Imports.

 

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