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January/February 2007

Sara Caswell
But Beautiful
Arbors Records

A few months ago Sara Caswell received her MM in jazz violin from the Manhattan School of Music. Her sophomore release, But Beautiful, could have easily been her thesis. A student of both classical and jazz music, Caswell incorporates her passion for both genres naturally in this well-thought-out recording. Her interpretation of an eclectic group of songs by composers of popular standards, jazz, contemporary pop and traditional music makes for an interesting journey without a bump in the road. Caswell’s playing is precise, crisp and confident, and her classical training serves to add an extra beauty to what are essentially jazz arrangements.

The disc opens with Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” which beautifully meets between jazz and classical music. Her original composition of “Professor ABC,” a tribute to her late father Austin Baldwin Caswell, not only captures his positive energy, but also her interest in the jazz classic, “St. Thomas,” a song that has inspired many a jazz musician. Her sister Rachel Caswell, a well-received jazz singer who also has an obvious classical background, adds a balanced beauty to several songs. Her wordless vocal (not scat) on Ron Carter’s “Receipt, Please,” proves the voice is an instrument in its own right and she blends right in with her younger sister. The rest of Caswell’s accompaniment features the more pure jazz sound of pianist Lynne Arriale, drummer Steve Davis and bassists Larry Kohut and Jeremy Allen. Sara Caswell appears to be aligning herself with the jazz community for the long run and we should feel grateful.

Originally published in January/February 2007
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