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Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini: Auburn Whisper (GroundUP)

A review of the second album from the trombonist and guitarist

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Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini: Auburn Whisper (GroundUP)
The cover of Auburn Whisper by Natalie Cressman & Ian Faquini

It’s no exaggeration to say that Brazilian music brought trombonist Natalie Cressman and guitarist Ian Faquini together. Having first played beside one another as young children while attending Brazil Camp in northern California, they both would go on to establish successful careers in music. Years later they connected at that very same retreat in the redwoods, eventually developing a personal and professional relationship that birthed 2019’s beautifully understated Setting Rays of Summer and this exquisite follow-up.

Crafted in 2020, when touring was canceled, Auburn Whisper evinces a more deliberate process of creation than its precursor. With ample time to write and ready access to Cressman’s father’s home studio, the duo was able to flesh out more elaborate and sophisticated arrangements, layering and molding their music with an ear for fine detail. Whereas Setting Rays of Summer spoke to sheer beauty, Auburn Whisper points to greater possibilities in production.

Right from the opening “Afoxé pra Oxum,” where guitar gently grooves on an Afro-Brazilian ijexá rhythm while Faquini’s (Portuguese) lead vocals are supported and surrounded by Cressman’s angelic harmonies and horn, it’s clear that there’s serious attention to sound and design in these settings. The title track, with Cressman’s singing at center stage, confirms that initial takeaway, featuring sweet single-note guitar lines and richly arranged trombone(s). The airy and elegantly shaped “Already There,” serving as the pair’s “pandemic anthem,” dances gracefully to a pulse of pure acceptance. Whether exploring folkloric angles, finding their way through a world turned upside down, building on shared experiences, or looking to points beyond, Cressman and Faquini stay in step throughout this bewitching 13-track program. As singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, and sonic sculptors, these two always come up aces together.

Learn more about Auburn Whisper at Apple Music!


Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.