Lorraine Feather, vocals – Ages (Lyrics: Feather; Music: Eddie Arkin Shelly Berg, Russell Ferrante, Bela Fleck, Dick Hyman) – Jazzed Media JM1047 ***** [Release: 2/9/10]:
(Band includes (on various tracks) = Russell Ferrante or Shelly Berg or Dick Hyman, piano; Michael Valerio, bass; Grant Geissman, guitar; Eddie Arkin, rhythm guitar; Bela Fleck, banjo; Michael Shapiro or Gregg Field, drums; M. Shapiro & Tony Morales, percussion; Warren Luening, trumpet; Bob Leatherbarrow, vibes)
Ms. Feather, the daughter of famed jazz writer Leonard Feather, is a wonderful storyteller in jazz, and sort of a female counterpart to her friend David Frishberg. She has collaborated with some of the best musicians in the business on this CD – included the pianist for The Yellowjackets, famed traditional piano virtuoso Dick Hyman, versatile guitarist Grant Geissman, and on the track of his instrumental for which she wrote the lyrics, banjoist Bela Fleck. A lot of her songs are about herself, but at the same time seem to apply to all of us.
In a way, this is a concept album, taking you thru the stages of life – hence its overall title. But this may not be noticed because you are so into the stories in the songs themselves. She covers such topics as B vitamins, grammar school memories, death, Scrabble and dog bowls. Perhaps the over-riding attraction here for me – not being that heavily into jazz vocalists personally – is the terrific sense of humor of Feather’s lyrics, similar to Frishberg, Bob Dorough and Blossom Dearie. My favorites were “I Forgot to Have Children,” and “Two Desperate Women in Their Late 30s.” Even when being a bit depressive in mood, Feather’s songs and delivery are tongue-in-cheek and “up” – not trying to be sophisticatedly satirical like, say, Patricia Barber. The arrangements, often by the particular performing musicians, are clever and support the lyrics beautifully. Some odd percussion items – such as a dog bowl and trash can – are well-used in them. The lyrics, by the way, are not printed in the album but you can get them all from her web site – www.lorrainefeather.com
Feather’s previous CD, Language, was #1 on the JazzWeek radio airplay chart last year and she was interviewed on NPR. This one should do just as well. She has also produced an animated short – an homage to Fats Waller titled “You’re Outa Here,” which has been shown at many film festivals. I look forward to seeing it one way or another. (It doesn’t appear to be on YouTube.)
TrackList: A Lot to Remember, Peculiar Universe, I Forgot to Have Children, Old at 18/Dog Bowl, Perugia, Things I Learned in High School, Two Desperate Women in Their Late 30s, The Girl with the Lazy Eye, How Did We End Up Here?, Scrabble, I Always Had a Thing for You.
– John Henry