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CD Review of Annie Sellick's "Street of Dreams"

A vocalist who has mastered "owning the lyrics"

Annie Sellick shines in full force on “Street of Dreams.” After taking some time to explore the swing band genre with her group “Annie and the Hot Club,” she hits the jazz scene hard. GAME ON! As with all previous recordings, Ms. Sellick throws herself completely into each arrangement. Her intense energy powers through it all, whether smoking up tempo or slithering through the vocal and bass lines of a sultry ballad. The music keeps all ears “locked in the moment.” “Street of Dreams” holds to Ms. Sellick’s high standards of musicianship, creativity and respect for the tradition.

Two stellar trios lend their support. This first is Gerald Clayton, piano with Dan Lutz on Bass and Kevin Kanner on Drums (same trio as on Ms. Sellick’s live CD “A Little Piece of Heaven”) and Jeff Hamilton, Drums with Tamir Hendleman on Piano and Christoph Luty on Bass. Both casts bring unique talent and blend of style. Ms. Sellick floats between both with ease. The result is pure “ear candy” and testifies to the caliber of musicians who want to work with Ms. Sellick.

“Street of Dreams” weaves through eleven compositions some well known standards and others not so well known. But each one jumps to life with the interpretation and energy that Annie Sellick brings. CD pops open with a funky slow fizz on Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross “Cloudburst”. Shortly in, Kevin Kanner’s drum verse jumps out of the blocks, releases the bubbles and the tune swings to action. The obvious joy in Ms. Sellick’s voice blossoms the tune to its full flower.

Switching gears. Chrisoph Luty’s rich molasses-like bass introduction on George Gershwin’s “Do It Again” lays a thick foundation for Ms. Sellick to work. By varying her tempo and exploring her vocal range, ‘tis easy to visualize a cat after a mid-day nap stretching for places seemingly out of reach. The result just feels good.

On Gilberto Astrud’s “Tristeza” (Portuguese for “sadness”) and “Mambo-Italiano,” we hear Ms. Sellick’s comfort not only with Latin rhythm and lyrics but also with improvisational exchanges, showing her personality and light-hearted humor whenever possible. Sweet! Her band mates understand interpretation and create the musical atmosphere of the village cafe’ where these compositions belong.

“Spring Will Be Little Late This Year”, “I Know You Oh So Well” and “I Keep Going Back to Joe’s” illustrate Ms. Sellick’s mastery of ballads and living the lyrics. The listener easily becomes a believer. Just listen.

Who doesn’t love Paris? Well “I Love Paris” gets even better in a rhythmic, waltz feel. The ensemble then tears into a straight ahead groove that showcases their swingability only later to waltz their way out of the City of Lights. Ahh!

Songs with double meanings are the lyricist’s genious. “Some Cats Know” by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller is a greasy, torchy tune that on the first listen the message is either clear or it is not. The title says it all.

“Look Out For Love” is a story of advice to the guy who may or may not be looking for love. The choice is in the listener’s heart. Sassy and classy, like everything Annie Sellick does.

“Street of Dreams” is a tricky tune with the vocals left out there to find a place to settle. There is perfect safety however with the trio swinging hard underneath. Pleasingly added to this arrangement is the well voiced, plunger-mute trumpet of Rob McGaha who expertly navigates the “Street.”

One of Ms Sellick’s unique traits is how much control she has over her voice. Whether managing to a slight crack of the lyric, introducing subtle vibrato or moving from beautiful tone to speaking and smiling a line, Ms. Sellick is always under control with perfect grace. Never does an ounce of Annie Sellick’s energy go wasted.

No preservatives, nothing processed just pure, organic, passionate music.

Thank you, Annie Sellick!

These are my comments. I welcome yours.
Bruce Pulver

Musicians: Annie Sellick, Vocals, Gerald Clayton, Piano, Kevin Kanner, Drums, Dan Lutz, Bass, Jeff Hamilton, Drums, Christoph Luty, Piano, Tamir Hendelman, Bass, Rob McGaha, Trumpet

Selections: Cloudburst, Do It Again, Tristeza, I Know You Oh So Well, I Love Paris, Some Cats Know, Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year, Mambo-Italiano, Street Of Dreams, I Keep Going Back To Joe’s, Look Out For Love

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Bruce Pulver