Eclipse of the Soul - Liner Notes
"In the ever-crowded field of aspiring jazz vocalists it is always such a pleasure to encounter an emerging artist who stands out in the crowd. Lori Williams is one such artist deserving of your attention. Her latest effort, which by now ought to be spinning merrily and impressively in your CD player or on your personal stereo device, is "Eclipse of the Soul," and she's clearly coming from a more diverse and more optimistic place than she was with her previous effort "Healing Within."
At that point in 2010 Lori was obviously under the influence of some personal pathos that dripped from pretty much every track of that nonetheless quite striking release. Despite the heavy load she was clearly carrying when she made "Healing Within" (as if that title wasn't clue enough!), it has often been the case that artists in the midst of personal challenges deliver some of their most penetrating work.
With "Eclipse of the Soul" Lori has come out on the other side of that pathos, clear of mind, bursting with spirit, and delivering her music with a lovely smile.
Take the opener, the familiar chestnut "Body and Soul" for example. That standard, floating on the wings of Allyn Johnson's churchy, swinging piano, is finely capped in a short reprise later on the disc. The key to Lori's take is an uncharacteristic uptempo arrangement; a choice she made to bring more punch and a fresher approach to the well-known melody. She sings of "surrender", and you'll quickly relinquish your ears to Lori and her joyous energy as she gets things underway with great joy; and dig her chuckle at the close! As for the #7 reprise, "I thought it would be a cool segue to the next half of the CD," says Lori, "almost a brief reminder of the opener, but the flavor is a bit different."
Inspired by The Emotions memorable reading of the Skip Scarborough vehicle "Don't Ask My Neighbors," Lori proves there is indeed gold to be mined from 70s pop. She's quite relaxed in her passion, even crafting attractive multi-tracked harmonizing to the mix. Tracy Cutler's appealing soprano saxophone rides first class over Benjie Porecki's B-3 organ and synth string bed. Not only has she cannily chosen a program of compatible familiars and new challenges, but Lori also knows how to keep good, challenging instrumental company.
Pianist William Knowles' "What Was I To You" is dedicated to the late Saltman-Knowles drummer Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson. "I just wanted to dedicate this one to him," says the genial, vivacious singer. "It's one of my favorite William Knowles' tunes and he was gracious to allow me to record it."
One of the hallmarks of this record is Lori's programmatic range. Not intent to simply lay down a series of standards with typical piano-bass-drums jazz date accompaniment, she mixes her partners, engaging the cream of the DC area's rich jazz crop to assist her, and warmly welcomes her children onto the date. Daughter Lauren provides attractive flute and vocal harmonies to her arrangement of Lori's original "Eclipse of the Soul," to which our leader lends further distinction with some spoken word. And her 4-year old son Yusef Khalil tags a sweet message on the end of Lori's original "Mother Black Crow." Additionally three of Ms. Williams' students at Woodrow Wilson HS were thrilled to make their studio debut, acquitting themselves quite nicely on "Mother Black Crow."
Not only are we welcomed into the parlor of Lori Williams the songwriter, she has also carefully delivered a few somewhat unlikely choices to this date; such as a surprising arrangement of the Beethoven classic "Moonlight Sonata," christened "The Moonlit Sky" for this occasion. "You'll notice the latter half expresses my jazzier feel to this classical selection," Lori enthuses. And who could forget Louis Armstrong's touching rendition of the Edith Piaf classic "La Vie En Rose"? Lori puts her own personal stamp on that lovely continental melody as well.
One comes away from "Eclipse of the Soul" rewarded by the obviously upward arc of Lori Williams artistic development, and mightily impressed at her programmatic skills as well. Here's a singer who is definitely on the rise. Listen out for Lori Williams!"
~ Willard Jenkins, Open Sky Jazz/Home of the Independent Ear/WPFW-FM
“Lori Anne Williams has the sought-after combination of soul and technical prowess that reminds me of Ella Fitzgerald – a treat to any jazz fan’s ears.”
~ Nathaniel Rolnick, Muzikreviews
“ . . . the talented and vocally acrobatic Lori Anne Williams. Her vocal scatting soars . . . Her tone and control are superb,
and her inventiveness is inspired.”
~ Ralph A. Mirello, Jazz
“Singer Lori Anne Williams is back with her warm and rich voice, and she’s as earthy as red clay, be it with lyrics, or
~ George Harris, JazzWeekly