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Cindy Horstman: Out of the Blue

Cindy Horstman has already made great strides in promoting the harp as an exciting voice in jazz-utilizing its uniquely colorful, gentle tones in a variety of textures and lead voices. Her latest effort, Out of the Blue (North Star Music NS0103; 45:36) shows moments of the creative arranging that marked her earlier work, but more often settles into the merely pleasant modern grooves of keyboard-driven Wave jazz. The best pieces here are memorable and sometimes downright mesmerizing: “Blue” uses dobro, six- and-twelve-string guitars to swirl around Horstman’s plucky, sweeping lead for a beautiful effect, and “In Flight” achieves its lithe Brazilian-to-Caribbean flavor by spotlighting her lead voice with some artfully placed pedal steel counterpoint. The gentle firelight ballad “Angelica,” with its sharply detailed acoustic background, makes another strong case for Horstman to put the emphasis on textured interplay. Other tracks, like the laid back, soprano-sax driven “Paronsia” and hooky “There Are No Words” are nice in a soft-rock way, but not elemental or bracing like her best work.

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