By George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
Various environs and locations are evoked by these songstresses
Svetlana Shmulyian has been described as “Astrud Gilberto in New York via Moscow” by my childhood friend Guy Eckstine, and that’s a clever way of reading this lady’s wide range of talents. Here, she brings an A list of artists including Wycliffe Gordon/voc-tb, Sullivan Fortner/p, Matt Wilson/dr, Chico Pinheiro/g and others for this wide range of interpretations of songs form the silver screen. She does a nice duet with Gordon’s voice and horn on a suave “Cheek to Cheek” and bluesy “Despicable Me” while Isabel Braun blends vocals with strings and Sullivan Fortner on a delightful “It Might Be You” with Wilson and Pinheiro’s guitar and accompanying strings make for a sweet “Moonlight” while Jon-Erik’s horn swaggers with the lady on “Watch What Happens.” A seat in the back row.
Sumitra Nanjundan plays piano while singing with drum star Brian Blade, taking time off from Wayne Shorter, as well as bassist Carlitos del Puerto and guitarist Alex Machecek for this mix of originals and standards. Her voice is sophisticated, articulate and leaning a bit on the pop side, as on the pretty and folksy “Bittersweet” and giving some polished R&B for “Settle Down.” She changes moods on a cleverly re-arranged read of “The Way You Look Tonight” delving into some nice piano musings with del Puerto, while she gets dramatic with Blade on “Freedom” and artsy with the team on “Another Day.” Intricate angles are sharp as Sumitra veers around the sharp Blade on “Take The Reins.” Prismatic poetry.