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April 2008

Maria Guida
Soul Eyes
Larknote

She started out as a violinist and then opted for an acting career that, over the course of 15 years, extended from primetime TV appearances to Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park. When Maria Guida subsequently made another dramatic career shift, inspired by a Bill Evans performance to reshape herself as a jazz singer, she was guided by two of the very best in the business, Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. Their superior influence is evident throughout much of Guida’s debut album. With Clayton providing musical direction and most of the arrangements, and backed by an unobtrusively fine quartet comprised of James Weidman (piano), Dean Johnson (bass), Tony Moreno (drums) and Ron Horton (flugelhorn), Guida makes several interesting choices, both in material and interpretation. A double nod to Coltrane pairs an admirably scatted “Bessie’s Blues” with an earthy reading of the title track, Blossom Dearie’s “Inside a Silent Tear” is nicely layered with haunted disappointment and a bouncy reading of Miles Davis and Jon Hendricks’ “Four” proves the disc’s highlight. Elsewhere, hints of shrillness (particularly on a disappointingly lackluster “Let’s Get Lost”) and a handful of awkwardly bent notes reveal her relative inexperience. Still, Soul Eyes is filled with enough imaginative promise to suggest that, in time, Guida could rival her exemplary teachers.

Originally published in April 2008
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