Jazz vocal groups have become a strange hybrid niche in recent times. Feeding from the troughs of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross vocalise, doo-wop/a cappella, and radio-station-jingle-singing in almost equal measures, groups similar to the Manhattan Transfer have courted both pop success and jazz legitimacy. New York Voices is a classic quartet of singers who do this uneasy blend with as much grace and professionalism as possible. On A Day Like This they assay bop, Brazilian, pop, and more with a vocal blend that could open a thousand Starbucks franchises. When it’s good it’s fairly exciting, as on the chilly-swinging “Darn That Dream” or the scat-infused “On a Clear Day”. But in too many spots this kind of thing is reminiscent of the “easy listening” of the 1960s, with these smooth-as-brie voices sounding the “101 Singers” doing Stevie Wonder (“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”) or Laura Nyro (“Stoned Soul Picnic”). The original tunes have the advantage of not sounding repackaged and prettified, so Lauren Kinhan’s “As We Live and Breathe” is tasty, and the true a cappella passages are plain virtuosic. As fine as these singers are, when they sing solo they seem vaguely anonymous. For harmony singing jazz fans, however, this is pretty close to a wet dream. But more like an old Playboy magazine than the real thing.
// Notes from the Road
"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.READ the article