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Melissa Stylianou: Silent Movie

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In New York, New York, director Martin Scorsese’s ambitiously flawed homage to Manhattan’s postwar music scene, saxman Jimmy Doyle (Robert De Niro) explains to vocalist Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli) that a “major chord” is when everything in your life works out perfectly. Professionally speaking, singer-songwriter Melissa Stylianou has achieved a major chord. Across three previous albums, all distinctively good, Stylianou was finding her footing, experimenting with different styles and interpretive approaches. Now, with Silent Movie, she settles into a spellbinding groove that advances her to the forefront of contemporary vocalists, rivaling the storytelling élan of Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon.

Working with her regular quartet-pianist Jamie Reynolds, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Gary Wang and drummer Rodney Green-augmented by cellist Yoed Nir, percussionist James Shipp and multireedist Anat Cohen, Stylianou traverses an intriguingly wide-ranging assortment of covers that extends from Jerome Kern, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer to James Taylor and Paul Simon. Brazilian singer-songwriter Vanessa da Mata’s “Onde Ir” unfolds with the delicacy of an orchid, while Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” becomes a stunning study in regret.

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