Album: Setting Rays of Summer
Street Date: April 5th, 2019
Label: Cressman Music
Setting Rays of Summer is the new duo project from trombonist and singer-songwriter Natalie Cressman and Brazilian composer, guitarist and vocalist Ian Faquini. Drawing from impressionism, jazz, and the great Brazilian songwriting tradition, Setting Rays of Summer is a ten-track collection of original material featuring compositions in three different languages: Portuguese, English and French. With the warm instrumentation of acoustic guitar and trombone alongside two-part vocal harmonies hugging the Brazilian-accented Portuguese, Cressman & Faquini weave their musical voices together to create a fully orchestrated sound befitting a much larger ensemble.
Cressman’s fifth album as a leader and Faquini’s third, Setting Rays of Summer is a uniquely intimate debut collaboration. Incorporating various rhythms from Brazil, including baião, samba, and ijexá, the album encompasses a vast spectrum of musical ground. The duo’s global take on music is largely expressed through the distinct compositional voice of Faquini, with occasional lyrics penned by Cressman. The album opens with “Terê” - a tune which takes its title from a woman of the same name. The song is a social outcry about the epidemic of violence against women, especially the economically disadvantaged women of the Brazilian communities known as favelas. Though the subject matter depicts strife and hardship, the rhythm is upbeat - a duality often present in the samba tradition.
While “L'aube” teams Faquini’s musicality with lyrics penned by Cressman in French, “Debandada” is an ijexá - a traditional Brazilian rhythm of African origin. Although rooted in Brazilian folkloric tradition the composition explores new harmonic and melodic paths. While the portuguese term, “debandada” usually refers to the migration of a flock of birds, here it represents animal’s need for escape from their rainforest habitat, due to man's destruction of their home. The title track is the first collaboration between the pair. The tune’s simple beauty reflects the influence of composers from Debussy to The Beatles. The lyrics follow the cadences of the melody with a pure narrative of two souls growing close as the seasons change.
Cressman and Faquini put this music forth with the hope that its honesty and intimacy resonates emotionally with their audiences. Exposing listeners to new stories and new styles of Brazilian music, Setting Rays of Summer is delivered with endearing simplicity which displays a fresh, individualistic sonic vision.
Possessing a voice as cool and crystalline, Natalie Cressman draws inspiration from a vast array of deep and powerful musical currents. While “her trombone is world-class”, according to Dave Good at the San Diego Reader, “her voice is an empathic entity that channels the ages”. Based in New York City, the trombonist and vocalist has spent the past eight years touring the jam band circuit as a horn player and singer with Phish's Trey Anastasio, while also performing with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Nicholas Payton, Anat Cohen, and Peter Apfelbaum. Deeply versed in Latin jazz, post-bop, pop, and Brazilian music, she has released 3 albums under her own name as well 2016’s Etchings in Amber - a gorgeous duo album with guitarist Mike Bono. When she’s not performing her own music, Cressman can be found collaborating with some of the most revered figures in rock, funk, jazz and beyond which have included Carlos Santana, Aaron Neville, Dave Matthews, Phish, Big Gigantic, Escort, The Motet, and Umphrey's McGee.
As described by writer Andy Gilbert in SF Classical Voice, “Faquini writes astonishingly sophisticated Brazilian pop music in the omnivorous tradition known as MPB (música popular brasileira), which often draws heavily on jazz.” Born in Brasília and raised in Berkeley, Ian Faquini is a protégé of Guinga, the illustrious Brazilian guitarist and composer. Faquini was a member of the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz Program before going on to study at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley and, immediately after graduating, joined the faculty there. He has performed throughout Europe, Japan, Brazil and the United States, and has shared the stage and recording studio with such names as Guinga, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Spok, Lee Konitz, Fleurine, among many others. Paul de Barros at the Seattle Times exudes, "Faquini is an uncannily masterful composer".
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THE JAZZ SESSION
Trombonist and vocalist Natalie Cressman has released an album and a single with Brazilian guitarist Ian Faquini, and a second album is nearly complete. In this interview, Cressman talks about immersing herself in the Portuguese language; the subtlety of her duo playing with Faquini; virtual music during the pandemic; and the recording of their second album. Listen to this podcast here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"The blend carries a powerful intimacy in the sound of their harmonized voices sailing over supple acoustic guitar and the occasional blast of smooth, pumping trombone." Read the full review here.
EAST BAY EXPRESS
"The music is so fully realized that it's all too easy to forget you're listening to only two musicians." Read the full feature here.
"Natalie Cressman’s career is soaring due to her artistic flexibility. At 28, the vocalist and winner of the category Rising Star–Trombone has collaborated with numerous individualists, including jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton and Phish guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio...Playing in a range of contexts has influenced her views on musical inclusion and expansion. “By being myself in every genre—trying to play the style but also following the aesthetic that I enjoy and the tone that I like on the trombone—I’ve found my niche,” she said." Read the full article here.
EAST BAY EXPRESS
Best of 2019: "With Faquini's expert guitar work providing a propulsive lattice for Cressman's burnished horn and crystalline vocals, they deliver one ravishing song after another. The music is so fully realized that it's all too easy to forget you're listening to only two musicians." Read the full piece here.
“She’s a top-shelf trombonist who’s worked with such diverse artists as Peter Apfelbaum and Phish’s Trey Anastasio, and is utterly at home in MPB (musica popular brasileira).” Read the full review here.
L.A. JAZZ SCENE
"...beautiful songs in Portuguese, French and English influenced by Brazilian bossa nova, samba and MPB, with tinges of baião and ijexá mixed in." Read the full concert review here.
THE MERCURY NEWS
"San Francisco-reared New York trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and Brazilian-born Berkeley guitarist/composer Ian Faquini sound more like a quartet then a duo on this ravishing set of originals songs inspired by Brazil’s omnivorously cosmopolitan popular music tradition." Read the full feature here.
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"A gorgeous and sensuous album by the team of Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini." Read the full review here.
"The chemistry between the two musicians pops off the record and here’s hoping there’s plenty more where that LP came from." Read the full show review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS BLOG
"...drenched in the folklore and the hypnotic rhythms and language of Brazil. It’s a sweet listen." Read the full review here.
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
"In San Francisco-reared trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman he [Ian Faquini] has found an ideal muse and musical partner who can effortlessly caress Brazilian Portuguese vowels singing lead or harmony and croon his melodies on her horn with understated eloquence." Read full show preview here.
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
"Live, and on this album, Faquini’s unaffected tenor voice is accompanied sweetly but with deft syncopation on his acoustic guitar. Cressman’s sylphic, clear soprano sings in harmony or solo, and she switches effortlessly to slide trombone..." Read the full show preview here.