Scott Bernstein, JamBase

Trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and guitarist/vocalist Ian Faquini played a gorgeous set of music focused on material from the recently released studio album Setting Rays Of Summer at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall on Monday night. Cressman and Faquini showed off their versatility and masterful musicianship throughout the performance.

Natalie and Faquini played music in various Brazilian styles on Monday and also incorporated a cover of The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.” Ian might have been shy when it came to addressing the crowd, but his classical guitar work was a sight to behold. The Brazilian composer came up with the most inventive phrasings and at one point stretched his fingers to hit notes eight frets away from each other in the same chord. Many of the songs performed featured Faquini’s music and Cressman’s lyrics.

The trombonist gave her arm a workout on a cover of Pixinguinha’s “Ainda Me Recordo,” as she played more notes than found in a typical Umphrey’s McGee guitar solo. “Ainda Me Recordo” is in the style of choro, the Brazilian version of ragtime. Other Brazilian styles explored during the set were baião, samba, and ijexá. However, for as good as Natalie’s instrumental work was, it was her soulful singing that stood out. Cressman belted out songs in English, Portuguese and French with powerful emotion for the enraptured audience. The pair even put their own spin on “She’s Leaving Home,” as Faquini sang the backing vocals in Portuguese.

Another stand out was “Setting Rays Of Summer,” the title track from the duo’s new album. Natalie painted a gorgeous picture with her vocals, which ranged multiple octaves from deep bass-heavy notes to high-pitched crescendos. Ironically, Monday was the warmest day of the year thus far in New York City. Yet, Cressman and Faquini provided listeners with vivid imagery from the end of summer. The pair complement each other perfectly on the album but even more so in concert. Having Natalie and Ian explain the origins of each song was also helpful for those who aren’t well-versed in Portuguese.

Setting Rays Of Summer is a splendid listen for a warm summer day sitting outside enjoying a cold beverage. The chemistry between the two musicians pops off the record and here’s hoping there’s plenty more where that LP came from.

She’s Leaving Home


Set: Sereia, Debandaba, Lenga Lenga, Skylark, Ainda Me Recordo, L’Aube, Mandingueira, She’s Leaving Home, Setting Rays Of Summer, Terê

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