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Nicole Zuraitis: All Wandering Hearts (Dot Time)

A review of the fourth album from the pianist/singer/songwriter

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Nicole Zuraitis: All Wandering Hearts
The cover of All Wandering Hearts by Nicole Zuraitis

Multi-hyphenate Nicole Zuraitis is quite the seamstress. A celebrated pianist, singer, and songwriter, she’s adept at stitching together lyrical lines and melodic hooks, which she then sews onto fabrics colored with sophisticated harmony and the occasional metric twist. Her impressive handiwork remains accessible and, while tailored to her own experiences, fits comfortably around a wider reality.  

For her fourth album, Zuraitis takes a hard, smart look through a jazz-pop lens at the truths endemic to the life of a working musician. Opener “Make It Flood,” filled with figurative language, is the diluvial delight it’s named to be. “The Way Home” deals in themes of loss and loneliness while acknowledging the powerful draw of the familiar. “Overdrive Mind,” riding a sorrowful-to-stormy curve, focuses on mental health issues. And “Rock Bottom,” which benefits from a powerful chorus, explores the drains of touring, performing, creating, and keeping pace. 

Three personalized covers join Zuraitis’ seven originals, and each fits seamlessly into the mix. Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” is transformed through the addition of a transitional odd-metered rock section, textural openness, vocal harmonies, and a big buildup. The Louis Armstrong-associated “What a Wonderful World” nods to current realities while retaining a measure of hope. And Rusted Root’s “Send Me on My Way” closes out the album with Zuraitis in flight.

The crew behind All Wandering Hearts, which includes Rhodes-and-organ wiz Carmen Staaf, guitarist Idan Morim, bassist Alex Busby Smith, and drummer Dan Pugach, proves dynamic while expertly dovetailing its parts. Zuraitis clearly knows how to pick her bandmates.


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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.