By Kira Grunenberg | Published November 2018
There are plenty of lessons musicians can learn while working their way through New York’s venues. Vocalist Judi Silvano likely can attest to this, and Lessons Learned contains rather descriptive lyrics that attempt to enlighten listeners. Less common instrumental and performative aspects of the album, like the metallic, spring-like effect on the guitar in “Dark Things” and the high-pitched, bowed bass at the beginning of “The Music’s In My Body,” give the songs moments of individuality. But Lessons Learned struggles to find a sense of flow. There are times when Silvano’s vocals seem at odds with the rest of the band. “Hand And Heart” plays out at a slow tempo, and Silvano’s accompanying melody moves with such unpredictable rhythmic improvisation that it becomes hard to know who is leading and what is supposed to propel the song. While Silvano is conscientious of clear enunciation—a quality sometimes secondary in vocal jazz—this stylistic strength serves as a weakness when, on a song like the finale, everything is sung with bold punctuation, eliciting a feeling of spasmodic movement more expected in scat or bebop.
Lessons Learned: Round And Round; You Will Know; Dark Things; Castle Song; Dust; Hand And Heart; After Love; Shuffle And Sway; Riding A Zephyr; The Music’s In My Body. (60:30)
Personnel: Judi Silvano, vocals; Kenny Wessel, Bruce Arnold, electric guitar; Adam Kolker, bass clarinet, soprano, tenor saxophone; Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone (5, 9); Ratzo B. Harris, bass; Bob Meyer, drums; Todd Isler, percussion.