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May 2007

Maria Anadon
A Jazzy Way
Arbors Records

Jazz is a universal language. For instance, a genuinely gifted pianist from Denmark can craft as fine a treatment of “Days of Wine and Roses” as an American like Fred Hersch. But it’s different for vocalists. If a foreign-born jazz singer wants to storm the shores of the Great American Songbook, he or she has little choice but to record in English. Sadly, such sessions typically require awkward phonetic readings. The end result is virtually guaranteed to lack the emotional oomph that can only come from an intimate appreciation of the lyricist’s intent.

Maria Anadon is a delightfully rare exception. Though she is Portuguese and this is her first stateside recording, Anadon shimmers on a dozen distinctly American gems (plus one Jobim classic and, to further prove her dexterity, the faux Cockney of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”) with the warmth, authority and emotional believability of a Dianne Reeves or Diana Krall. But Anadon takes it a step further, effortlessly conquering two tracks—Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation,” outfitted with words by Sheila Jordan, and Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments,” complete with Mark Murphy’s high-flying lyrics—so monstrously tricky that a lot of seasoned Americans wouldn’t dare attempt them.

Adding to the disc’s international flavor (and its tangy pizzazz) is an all-female quartet that spans three continents, anchored by U.S.-born drummer Sherrie Maricle, flanked by Israeli clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Anat Cohen, Japanese pianist Tomoko Ohno and, also from Japan, bassist Noriko Ueda. All of them speak flawless jazz.

Originally published in May 2007
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