The Morganville Four | Alone With My Dream

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Alone With My Dream

by The Morganville Four

"Alone With My Dream" is a fresh new take on traditional acoustic jazz that combines the refined instrumental and vocal talents of Dan Levinson (clarinet, saxophone), Nicki Parrott (bass, vocals), Bria Skonberg (trumpet, vocals) and Gordon Webster (piano)
Genre: Jazz: Jazz quartet
Release Date: 

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1. It's All Right With Me
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4:53 $0.99
2. Brazil
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5:22 $0.99
3. Once in a While
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5:05 $0.99
4. C'est Si Bon
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5:55 $0.99
5. Je Suis Seul Ce Soir
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6:36 $0.99
6. The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else
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5:43 $0.99
7. Up Jumped You With Love
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6:10 $0.99
8. Only Trust Your Heart
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5:32 $0.99
9. The Summer of '23
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3:56 $0.99
10. Que Sera, Sera
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4:33 $0.99
11. Russian Lullaby
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3:45 $0.99
12. When Your Lover Has Gone
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2:58 $0.99
13. Thanks a Million
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4:43 $0.99
14. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
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3:41 $0.99
15. Under a Blanket of Blue
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5:16 $0.99
16. Manha De Carnaval
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4:38 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
I have rarely enjoyed such a quartet as this one. Nor have I ever encountered a foursome with such a wide generational, geographical, and gender-neutral range under its collective belt. I was surprised to realize that reed virtuoso Dan Levinson is the only natural-born American in the collective. Otherwise the participants range from Ottawa, Ontario (pianist Gordon Webster), to Newcastle, Australia (bassist-vocalist Nicki Parrott), to Chilliwack, British Columbia (highly preferable to Spanish Colombia, trumpeter-vocalist Bria Skonberg), and in age from their 20s to their 40s. (There's a similar international prerogative in that the songs originated as far afield as France and Brazil, and were composed anywhere from the 1920s to the 1950s.)

The success of this session underscores the compatibility of the styles and materials that the quartet chooses to work from: the stylistic vocabularies of New Orleans, traditional, and Swing Era jazz, the Great American Songbook, popular songs from all over the globe, rhythms and grooves from across the New World, rendered in statements both vocal and instrumental.

The two girl-girl vocal duets, coincidentally, both originated in Rio: Brazil, more properly known as "Aquarela do Brasil," and Manhã de Carnaval, which is more familiarly known as "A Day in the Life of a Fool" in English, although this earlier translation by the storied George David Weiss hones closer to the original Portuguese. Terry Waldo's The Summer of '23 sounds like something that Jelly Roll or Papa Joe would have written, while Only Trust Your Heart is by a long-distance-running pair of North Americans (Sammy Cahn, whose lyrics are hauntingly sung by Ms. Parrott, and Benny Carter). Ms. Parrott shows why it was instantly adopted by Brazilian musicians, who raised it as one of their own. A marvelous voice-piano duet, When Your Lover Has Gone, speaks to the affability of Ms. Parrott and Mr. Webster, who shows his mettle as a vocal accompanist of superior worth.

Then there's C'est Si Bon (which is known in English as "C'est Si Bon"), a song that's so French that Ms. Parrott felt obliged to introduce her arrangement with Ms. Skonberg quoting "La Marseilles," is possibly an even greater feat of group singing, since Mr. Levinson's C-melody saxophone obligato behind Ms. Parrott and Ms. Skonberg's muted trumpet contributions are so exquisitely vocalized that this truly amounts to a vocal trio. (Mr. Levinson seems intent on renaming this song, "C'est Si-Melody," and more power to him.) Another slice of international solidarity, Russian Lullaby, is offered here in honor of a certain very close friend of all the participants, a sentimental gentleman from Georgia who does not wish to be back in the USSR.

And so I'm saying thanks a million to everyone concerned for this grandly swinging set of jazz that's blissfully free of agenda, an ambition thoroughly communicated by the opening track, Cole Porter It's All Right With Me. Is this swing? Traditional jazz? What we once called "Mainstream Jazz"? It doesn't matter. It's as thoroughly modern, relevant, and contemporary as any music being played today. Throughout, the four participants all seem to be saying that whatever what you might choose to call this music, it's all right with me.

Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about jazz and nightlife for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. He is the author of eight books on music and popular culture, including A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS (winner of the 2011 ASCAP Award), and is an eight-time Grammy nominee.


Reviews


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ALONE WITH MY DREAM by The Morganville Four

ALONE WITH MY DREAM by The Morganville Four = 5 STARS
OMG…, what a wonderful dream indeed. The latest CD release by the ‘Morganville Four’ on the Jazz Rules label entitled, ‘Alone with My Dream’ surprises and delights from end to end. “Alone With My Dreams” skillfully takes Swing, New Orleans Jass, some Euro gypsy, and kisses it with Brazil to provide total jazz perfection to the novice and the accomplished listener. The talent here is secure and proper. For many musicians “Alone With My Dreams” is a lesson in laid-back, in the pocket, cool.
The deep understanding and respect for Jazz held within these musicians is what makes this effort so utterly remarkable. According to the liner notes, the CD represents only the second gathering of this international jazz quartet, once to jam, once to record. That was it. Got it?
Led by Dan Levinson (NYC), a remarkable reedman is best known for his mastery of the early jazz era from 1920’ 1930’s although his credits span from his days with Vince Giordano and Woody Allen right up to the movie Avatar. Dan’s pure sense and smooth approach sets the tone as this talent quartet whisks you immediately away to a time where cool was what it was all about.
Bassist / Vocalist Nicki Parrott (Les Paul, Clark Terry, Dick Hyman), originally from Auckland, NZ, is as steady on bass as she is daring. Nicki slurs and slides her way thru tight swing, and Bassa lines with a freedom that holds you close enough the dance. Her vocals are also equal to the task. Several times she surprised me as she effortlessly took me to notes she needed me to hear.
On trumpet from British Columbia, Canada, Brea Skonberg is a remarkable talent. On first listen you will recognize that her ability as a world class musician is present on each note as they pour out of her horn, and just in time. Every tone is truly her unique creation. She’ll grab you as she holds on, and then pushes her understated choice of notes out to you. Her sound and style is very reminiscent of Louis Armstrong. Yes, I said Louis Armstrong. The notes boil slowly up and out the way oatmeal pushes the steam out on a boil. Pop…, and float it. Wow! Her vocals lock you in to every word.
This leaves Canadian, Gordon Webster on piano. Gordon is all over this thing and in the right way. His solos are deep, rich in swing, bop, and New Orleans. His remarkable time holds the entire dream tight so the entire quartet doesn’t fly off in to indulgent solos. The horns are free to take what they need, trade fours, and the smoothest transitions from horn to horn you may ever hear. He rides Nicki Parrott’s wonderful bass work articulating the feel for the other soloist simply to ride on. Listen how he punches his chords and fills throughout the entire CD. Understated, and yet so perfect.
If you’re a jazz fan hopefully you will enjoy this work as much as I did, and I loved it. If you’re a musician listen and learn. Forgo those chops for some music. You will love this CD! 5 stars.

Joe Busam

Instant Classic
I've been listening and re listening to it over the past week. It's been with me at home, in the car and on my iPod Nano. I'm not a musician nor a critic so all I can say is what a wonderful listening experience it's been. It's beautifully recorded and the balance seems spot on to me. It has a wonderful warm sound that's so inviting. Many surprises. Of course I'm very familiar with Dan's playing and his usual soulful genius is very much in evidence. Even when someone else is in the spotlight, he's there in the background lending marvelous support. All the other musicians are new to me and what a delight they are. Gordon's piano is bright and beautiful. Niki's bass and smoky vocals are a joy to listen to and Bria's trumpet work is exceptional. Niki's vocals were the first I heard and was in love with it immediately but when I heard Bria's version of Que Sera Sera I think I have to name it my favorite track on the entire CD. My wife said she has a quality that reminds her of Peggy Lee. Played it for family and friends this past week and all gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up as do I. So proud to have been a part of this. Here's hoping you have a sell out and have to go with a second pressing

Blake M.

Exquisite for those without developed "jazz ears"
Of limited jazz listening experience here, but this album truly convinced me the breadth of the jazz form can be upbeat, musically fascinating, and understood easily--in sharp contrast to what many people think of as a dark-sounding string of incomprehensible random notes/ chord structures, and some of the "out there" jazz. The bands' music selection, sheer artistry, and the professional production of this album bear that out, loud and clear--it's fun to listen to, dance to, and added a real touch of class to my party. Having a decade of experience with trumpet and guitar allowed me to really appreciate the brilliant musicianship on display with the Morganville Four. What surprised me is how much I came to love the clarinet, played by Dan Levinson, in the 5 listens since a friend sent me this album a week ago. I did what he did for me, and bought a few albums for friends, hoping they'll enjoy as much as I did. I would expect this beautiful album to continue to mushroom in this way!!!

Blake Meridian

Wow, Wonderful Upbeat Jazz--5 stars
This album is exquisite, and brilliant in song selection and all aspects of musical performance. For those who are of modest jazz listening experience, such as myself, I think you'll find it as I did: absolutely delightful, intriguing, easy and fun to listen to. This album should definitely convince the listener of the breadth of the jazz form, as The Morganville Four contrasts (sharply) with the darker, abstract, downbeat and random-style of jazz that many find incomprehensible. In this album, the band blends an upbeat big band style with a traditional jazz reminiscent of the greats and thereby produces a light-hearted sound. I really loved the instrumentation, bass, piano, trumpet and clarinet. It surprised me how much I came to love the clarinet (played by virtuoso Dan Levinson) after 5 listens since my friend sent it to me a week ago. I have played the trumpet and guitar for a decade, so I can attest the trumpeter is superb. The vocal tracks are amazing as well, so sultry and beautiful. And the pianist is a true master, and really adds a lot to the sound.

This is a truly great album that will appeal to those with limited "jazz ears" (that's different than jazz hands:):) , as well as appealing to the jazz afficionados. This album, in itself, has convinced me to expand my jazz horizons without question.