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Marianne Solivan: Spark

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Though a vital part of the Manhattan jazz scene for more than a decade, Berklee grad Marianne Solivan remains too much a local delicacy. Hopefully Spark, her sophomore release as a leader, is prophetically titled, and will at last ignite wider recognition.

Though Solivan’s sound hints at the sharp-focused intensity of Patricia Barber, she is several shades darker and more overtly dynamic, suggesting the earthiness of Dinah Washington melded with the interpretive sass of Carmen McRae or, on occasion, even Betty Carter. Supported by an ace trio-drummer Gregory Hutchinson, bassist Matthew Parrish and pianist Xavier Davis (the sole holdover from her previous album, Prisoner)-with a remarkable fullness and fluidity, Solivan shapes an intriguingly diverse set that includes a cloudy “The Lies of Handsome Men,” furtive, Parrish-propelled “Tender as a Rose,” feverous “This Is New” and ballsy, take-no-prisoners “I Wanna Be Around.”

Among the 13 tracks, which also include a kickass “Hum Drum Blues” and a fiery reading of Rubén Blades’ “El Cantante,” Solivan offers five originals. Three-the title track, “First Desire” and “If I Were to Love You” (based on a Federico García Lorca poem)-are deeply sensual explorations of unbridled passion. The roiling “On a Clear Night” conversely recalls a faded amour. Most profound is “The Dove,” co-written with Davis, a soaring hymn to love’s purity and freedom.

Originally Published