By Aaron Cohen | Published September 2020
Nicole Zuraitis had been a mainstay in New York jazz clubs up until the pandemic halted life, and the bandleader’s originals on her latest outing convey themes that resonate in times like these. All Wandering Hearts, her fourth album as leader, shows how the vocalist and pianist adapts the skills learned from fronting large bands to a set of solid pop songs.
Throughout, Zuraitis keeps her vocal phrasing understated and seems to be in no hurry to show off her considerable range, befitting the meaning of her lyrical commentary on contemporary life during “Overdrive Mind.” On “Sugar Spun Girl,” deep into the album, Zuraitis is playful in her start-stop staccato wordplay, combining with Idan Morim’s guitar. For the closing “Send Me On My Way,” Zuraitis performs the kind of wordless vocal improvisations that she developed in Manhattan jazz clubs. And while she conveys a warm lilt on “What A Wonderful World,” it’s a tune that remains reinterpreted too often. Morim’s electric guitar leads also needlessly detract from her voice on a couple of tracks. But ultimately, her own strengths throughout All Wandering Hearts reaffirm that Zuraitis will sound ready when her city’s venues open up again.
All Wandering Hearts: Make It Flood; The Way Home; I Would Die 4 You; Overdrive Mind; What A Wonderful World; Gold; Sugar Spun Girl; Rock Bottom; Lullabye; Send Me On My Way. (43:49)
Personnel: Nicole Zuraitis, vocals, piano; Idan Morim, guitar; Alex Busby Smith, bass; Dan Pugach, drums; Carmen Staaf, Rhodes, organ; Thana Alexa, Elise Testone, vocals; Chase Potter, strings.