|Welcome to Brooklyn
New York-based vocalist Hillary Maroon and pianist Benny Lackner, the core of the band MAROON, breathe new life into vocal jazz on their debut CD Migratory. Aided by a top-shelf musician list including drummers Pheeroan akLaff, Allison Miller and Mark Ferber; bassist Andrew Emer; guitarist Mark Tewarson; and producer/percussionist J Why, MAROON takes vocal jazz on a musical and emotional trip that you won't soon forget.
Josef Woodard (Jazz Times) says that MAROON'S "fiery rhythmic grooves and cerebral mixtures of lyric and melody get along just fine...Migratory is just that, which often follows a heady heart into an area where polychords, terse harmonies, and searching melody lines rule." Dan McClenaghan calls Migratory "something wonderful and fresh and new; I've already made a spot for it in my list of classic albums, sets of songs that are perfectly conceived and executed, musical statements that achieve exactly what they set out to do, and maybe then some." Migratory is "stacked with hip originals" (David Adler) by Hillary and Benny, composed separately and in collaboration.
Fueled as much by avant-garde jazz and M-BASE rhythms as by singer-songwriter rock and tale-telling R&B balladry, the appropriately-named Migratory is a constantly-moving mix of styles, sewn together by Maroon's distinctive, crystal-clear vocal style and Lackner's inventive, perfectly-utilized Rhodes, organ and piano settings. Easing from unique originals like the slinky, tongue-in-cheek humor of album-opener "Welcome To Brooklyn" to the jumpy, worldly-wise love tale of "Migratory" to bold interpretations of compositions that range from well- (Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol's "Caravan") to lesser-known (Annette Peacock's "Dreams [If Time Weren't])" plus Charlie Haden and Abbey Lincoln's "First Song", the CD also features a memorable take on Bob Dylan's "Love Sick." Maroon chooses words and phrasings carefully and exposes the listener to a full-palette of very-human moods: self-effacing, frustrated, vulnerable, in love, world-weary. Maroon's always fully aware of her surroundings and eager to explore the emotional intricacies of interactions, with others and with the world.
The album itself uses a variety of musical talent, rotating stylistically-diverse drummers Pheeroan akLaff, Allison Miller and Mark Ferber to great effect. Guitarist Mark Tewarson shines, bassist Andrew Emer anchors all eleven tunes, and producer J Why brings a cutting-edge production approach on much of the album, as well as bringing colors to three tracks as percussionist. And Hillary Maroon herself adds organ and percussion to her "Stray Boy Blues." It's an expertly-executed group effort that brings out the strength in each melody and rhythm thrown at the listener.