Cécile Verny Quartet

Of Moons And Dreams
(Jazzhaus Records)

The instrumental foundation of the Cécile Verny Quartet’s Of Moons And Dreams doesn’t stray far from jazz keystones: Bass, Hammond organ and piano, drum kit and percussion back Verny’s pristinely delivered vocals.

Prioritizing pop on “I Heard An Angel Singing,” jazz-leaning tropes still define the song’s tonal color, as opposed to functioning as its structural driver. That’s not to say Verny’s part comes across with pop’s commercial tendencies, though. She doesn’t throw her voice around recklessly, belting it out just for show. And her unique vocal character—clearly shaped by time in Côte d’Ivoire, France and Germany—boasts an intriguing and adaptive quality. The bandleader’s clear, almost classically formal enunciations augment the rhythmically assertive “Krakatoa Moon” and “Top Shelf Life.”

The decision to have Of Moons And Dreams reckon with pop might seem like an impulsive choice, spurred by the quartet’s multidecade longevity. But this project hardly is the result of creative tedium. Verny’s experimentation feels like a natural progression, the bandleader embracing constant change and accepting difference.