MELISSA STYLIANOU, SILENT MOVIE

Melissa Stylianou is a new name to me, yet “Silent Movie” (Anzic Records) is her fourth recording and it’s a winner by all measures, from the program of songs to the hues of emotion, made musical and colored brightly by her amazing band. Her liner notes reveal that evoking a mood, a place or a memory is foremost on Stylianou’s mind, and in that respect I am reminded of Joni Mitchell’s early records since Stylianou’s style of singing suggests Mitchell as well.

By linking the listening of her album to the experience of watching a story unfold on screen, Stylianou smartly frames these twelve songs that comprise “Silent Movie” with a welcome intimacy. The gifted quartet of musicians that support her, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Gary Wang, drummer Rodney Green and the fresh sounding pianist, Jamie Reynolds, collectively become the weavers of her dreams and Stylianou’s set list is delivered with breathtaking clarity, thanks to the uncluttered arrangements that frame her gorgeous voice. Her song selection mix modern classics like Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” and James Taylor’s “Something In The Way She Moves,” with the unexpected (Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone”) and the band is often augmented by the multi-reed magic of Anat Cohen whose subtle assist gives the music a sonic buzz. Stylianou’s original lyrics (added to tunes by Vince Mendoza and Edgar Meyer) have equal power to move you, particularly the title track where a conflicted couple watch a film, yet their emotional division preoccupies them to distraction. Happily, the album has a satisfying completeness that keeps you fully engaged and its cinematic motif is nicely underscored by Charles’ Chaplin’s “Smile” and Mancini’s “Moon River,” stalwart screen gems with built in appeal that bookend the recording and which Stylianou delivers with delicate grace. (12 tracks; 54:47 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: MELISSA STYLIANOU, SILENT MOVIE

Thursday, April 26, 2012

MELISSA STYLIANOU, SILENT MOVIE

Melissa Stylianou is a new name to me, yet “Silent Movie” (Anzic Records) is her fourth recording and it’s a winner by all measures, from the program of songs to the hues of emotion, made musical and colored brightly by her amazing band. Her liner notes reveal that evoking a mood, a place or a memory is foremost on Stylianou’s mind, and in that respect I am reminded of Joni Mitchell’s early records since Stylianou’s style of singing suggests Mitchell as well.

By linking the listening of her album to the experience of watching a story unfold on screen, Stylianou smartly frames these twelve songs that comprise “Silent Movie” with a welcome intimacy. The gifted quartet of musicians that support her, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Gary Wang, drummer Rodney Green and the fresh sounding pianist, Jamie Reynolds, collectively become the weavers of her dreams and Stylianou’s set list is delivered with breathtaking clarity, thanks to the uncluttered arrangements that frame her gorgeous voice. Her song selection mix modern classics like Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” and James Taylor’s “Something In The Way She Moves,” with the unexpected (Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone”) and the band is often augmented by the multi-reed magic of Anat Cohen whose subtle assist gives the music a sonic buzz. Stylianou’s original lyrics (added to tunes by Vince Mendoza and Edgar Meyer) have equal power to move you, particularly the title track where a conflicted couple watch a film, yet their emotional division preoccupies them to distraction. Happily, the album has a satisfying completeness that keeps you fully engaged and its cinematic motif is nicely underscored by Charles’ Chaplin’s “Smile” and Mancini’s “Moon River,” stalwart screen gems with built in appeal that bookend the recording and which Stylianou delivers with delicate grace. (12 tracks; 54:47 minutes)

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