CD Review: Irene Atman, Jazz Vocalist Self-Titled CD, 2007
Edward Blanco, 88.9 FM Serious Jazz – Miami, EJazzNews
From Toronto, Canada, vocalist Irene Atman releases her self titled debut album presenting eleven time-honored classics from the Great American Songbook. Most definitely one of the best jazz vocals recordings I’ve ever heard. Possessing a voice that brings to mind some great singers, I asked myself where has she been and why has she not let the world hear her sooner.
I concluded that if the legendary Barbra Streisand ever decided to sing jazz, she would sound like Irene Atman. That’s how good I believe this lady’s voice really is, truly mesmerizing. Let me add, that I have had the privilege of seeing Streisand live in concert (October, 2006, Bank Atlantic Center, Sunrise) so I know of what I speak.
Making this album so special is the selection of wonderful tunes like the Rodgers/Hammerstein “Shall We Dance,” Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You,” Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You,” “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life,” and Johnny Mandel’s immortal “The Shadow of Your Smile,” just to name a few.
Atman interprets these classics with a stylish graceful elegance that leaves a memorable impression. The singer reaches with each song carrying the lyrics in warm fashion and hitting the high notes with ease. She even includes a Michel Legrand/Jaques Demy composition (“Les Parapluies de Cherbourg”) voiced in French.
She begins the album with one of the best renditions of “Summer Me, Winter Me,” recorded and ends with the romantic Victor Young/Ned Washington love ballad of “My Foolish Heart.”
Atman pulls off this musical treasure with the assistance of a fine sextet that includes co-arranger and producer Danny McErlain (piano), Duncan Hopkins (bass), Steve Heathcote (drums), Rob Piltch (guitar), Bob DeAngelis (sax and clarinet), John Macleod (trumpet) and Gary Binsted (bass) on selected tracks.
An enchanting musical statement from Irene Atman. This release should garnish critical acclaim and calls from everyone who hears it, for more.
Label: Self Published
CD Reviews: Irene Atman..Jazz Vocalist..2007 Posted by: editor on Friday, July 13, 2007 - 01:48 PM
> The seductiveness of the female voice in song, courts the soul of any man who listens. It is the lure of the siren and the irresistible call of the muse, Euterpe
Irene Atman has wisely chosen the tunes on this album for their melodious content and superb lyrics. She has parlayed this into one gem of a recording.
"Shall We Dance" After a clarinet intro Atman struts her way through a softly swinging version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's old chestnut.
"That's All" is a bouncy ear pleasing number that is hip (and then some) featuring a rousing piano solo by McErlain matched by a stirring vocal by Atman.
"The Very Thought Of You" is a standard that has a message in the words that are defined by their brilliance. Bob DeAngelis' ultra cool sax solo fits perfectly into the scheme of things. Again Atman plays it straight and gets into the heart of this song with grace and elegance.
Irene Atman sings the bottom out of every note in easygoing fashion on "If I Were a Bell" There is no extraneous fuss and clutter here just pure jazz at it's best. Fine ensemble backing is omnipresent throughout.
"My Foolish Heart" is a composition with lyrics that are the epitome of the grand poetry found in the American love song. The pianistic artistry of Danny McErlain adds to the mystic quality of Irene Atman's superb approach.
Irene Atman's clear articulation is an important factor in her style along with the ability to sing in tune and treat the lyrics with the respect that the composer intended. She does this with the ease of a seasoned performer who has found the essence of jazz vocalization and performs it with professionalism and God given ability.
> 5 STARS
While most children want someone to sing them to sleep with a bedtime lullabye, the young Irene Atman was always far more ambitious. Every night she would sing herself to sleep, but there was nothing childish about these songs.
By the age of seven, Irene had become entranced by the sophisticated nuances of the jazz singers in her father's LP collection. From Tony Bennett to Frank Sinatra, Doris Day to Peggy Lee, Irene practiced the breathing, the phrasing, the dynamics of all the greats, singing along with them from her bedroom and performing encore after encore until her family finally insisted that she call it a night.
Soon Irene was studying piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music. But even more intently, she was studying the techniques and styles of singers as diverse as Judy Garland and Petula Clarke. And although she has never taken a formal voice lesson, it could be said her most influential teachers were Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney.
At the age of 19, Irene had officially "graduated", being invited to join one of the top big bands in Toronto, the Stan Hiltz Orchestra. Soon after, as word traveled quickly through the jazz community, she made her first recording with none other than The Boss Brass.
"One of the biggest thrills of my life - imagine singing with Gene Amaro, Guido Basso, Sam Noto, Dave Woods and Marty Morell."
Irene eventually toured the U.S., settling in one of the world's great music centres, New Orleans. There she performed with the historic Delta Queen Steamboat Company for over two years, continuing to grow and define her personal style.
"I began to emulate the sounds of the horns, their dynamics, their control. I thought if a horn player can do this with a piece of metal, I can do this with my voice. But subtlety is what jazz is all about."
Returning to Toronto, Irene performed regularly, including an appearance on the same bill as Tony Bennett and she was often featured on CBC Radio's After Hours with host Ross Porter.
Now, despite the comings and goings of musical trends, Irene remains passionately committed to finely crafted, sensitively rendered, classical jazz tunes. And that's exactly what she offers up in her new CD.
Backed by some of the hottest session players in the business, recorded with respect for the human touch that is the heart of jazz, Irene Atman's rich, warm voice takes you on a journey that is both timeless and intimate.