Simone Kopmajer: Romance – with John diMartino, Piano and arrangements; George Mraz, Bass; Tim Horner, Drums; Eric Alexander, Tenor Saxophone – Zoho Music

by | Jul 23, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Simone Kopmajer: Romance – with John diMartino, Piano and
arrangements; George Mraz, Bass; Tim Horner, Drums; Eric Alexander,
Tenor Saxophone – Zoho Music ZM 200505, 57 min. ****:

So very many records by jazz vocalists, wanna-be’s and hanger’s on come
across my desk (often on really obscure labels nobody’s ever heard of),
that, let’s face it – it’s sometimes a really daunting task not to be
jaded toward most of them right out of the gate. I’ve said this many
times – most often, there’s a reason we’ve never heard of this singer
before – and probably never will again. And while I really try to
approach each upstart in this often-traveled genre with a fresh
outlook, it’s pretty easy to assume that very few new artists are going
to have something out of the ordinary or truly unique to say with
regards to a jazz standard or show tune. Rare indeed is the disc that
displays real vocal talent and mastery of the music, and codifies it
with superb recorded sound.

“Romance” by Simone Kopmajer is that disc – her singing is superb
throughout, and never sounds forced – she displays a deep understanding
of the music in her heartfelt vocals. The instrumental accompaniment is
sparse – piano, bass, drums and sax, but the arrangements are tight and
really suit the program; avoiding the orchestral treatments these songs
are usually given has breathed new life into them. Ms. Kopmajer (that’s
pronounced COP-myer) has a soulful but breathy delivery that really
distinguishes her from her contemporaries. Her diction is excellent,
with only the slightest trace of any accent and a very slight slur of
syllables – after several listens, I was certain she was American;
probably from the deep south – New Orleans, perhaps? Imagine my
surprise to find out that she’s Austrian – go figure!

The song selection is pretty much taken from Broadway ad Tin Pan Alley,
carefully avoiding so many of the tunes that have been almost driven
into the ground by countless artists in recent years. Only two songs,
“A Blossom Fell” and “Just Squeeze Me” have been covered by either
Diana Krall or Jane Monheit in the last few years, and Ms. Kopmajer
avoids the usual cliches. A few odd numbers have been successfully
thrown in for good measure. Bill Withers’ “Whatever Happens,” an
excellent song that really makes one wonder why it isn’t heard more
often these days, is the albums’ centerpiece, and is reprised in a
voice and piano only version that wonderfully closes the record. The
sound quality is excellent for Red Book CD; the recording is up-close
and intimate with superb imaging and is a joy to listen to. Avoid the
naysayers – this disc is very highly recommended!

Tracks: How Do You Keep the Music Playing?; A Blossom Fell; We Kiss in
a Shadow; Calling You; Whatever Happens; Exactly Like You; Someone to
Light Up My Life; The Way You Look Tonight; A Time for Love; Where or
When; Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me); Whatever Happens.

— Tom Gibbs 


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