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Sylvia Brooks - Sylvia Brooks Live with Christian Jacob
(Rhombus Records, 2023)
On her fifth release, Sylvia Brooks Live With Christian Jacob, Sylvia Brooks kicks open the door and issues a robust reading of her recital book. Drawing from her four previous recordings: Dangerous Liaisons (CD Baby, 2009), Restless (CD Baby, 2012), The Arrangement (SBM Music, 2017), and Signature (Rhombus Records, 2022), Brooks reveals herself as a song stylist as opposed to a jazz singer, putting her more in the arena of Frank Sinatra than Betty Carter.
Brooks’ performance with a band led by long-time collaborator, pianist Christian Jacob, was recorded before an appreciative audience at Herb Albert's Vibrato Jazz Club in Los Angeles. The band is a slim sextet with a big band sound capable of providing an authoratative mementum. Such is what was heard as Brooks and the band tears the curtains with the 1941 Arlen/Koehler “When The Sun Comes Out.” Filled with swagger and punch, Brooks unleashed her mezzo voice, allowing it to fully flower. But Brooks is just getting up to speed, soaring into a breathtaking coda that makes time slow and the genius of the music and performance apparent.
The show featured an original instrumental composition by pianist and bandleader Jacob. “The Red Pig Flew Up The Hill” was included on his trio’s Originals (WilderJazz, 2019) release. It is an expansive and clever piece that rings every last note out of this sextet. It is a thrilling performance to be so eloquently understated. The arrangement smacks of Oliver Nelson by way of John Carisi, being lushly poetic and hard swinging.
Brooks fears no genre, transforming Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold heart,” into a breezy swing tune while conjuring an anxious urban vibe from “Night And Day.” Ending the disc as she began it, Brooks sauntered through a slinky “Come Rain Or Shine” presented lushly, with full body and soul. Brooks continues her streak of exceptional recording with this larger-than-life live performance.