New York Voices: In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
New York Voices
A Day Like This (Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild 1031)
Andy Ezrin (piano), Paul Nowinski (bass), Marcello Pelletteri (drums).
Composed by David Mann & Bob Hilliard; arranged by Jay Ashby, Darmon Meader & Kim Nazarian.
Recorded: Pittsburgh, 2007
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
While they have not enjoyed the popular success of Manhattan Transfer, the New York Voices are highly revered amongst professional and amateur jazz singers. NYV's solo voices are not as distinctive as Manhattan Transfer's, but they achieve a marvelous vocal blend and share a rock-solid command of jazz rhythm and phrasing. The four members of NYV also have wide-ranging tastes in music and on their CD A Day Like This, they explore jazz standards, vocalese, samba, tango, original compositions and pop/rock.
Their version of "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" might be best considered as a re-construction of the song. The introduction is a slow 4-part a cappella rumination on the lyrics, leaving out the opening line of the song, and eschewing both the original harmony and melody. The rhythm section enters at lightning speed with the Voices singing a boppish variation over the top. One might be afraid of a reckless up-tempo reading of a very tender lyric, but instead Meador charges in with a burning tenor sax solo, backed up with wordless figures from the Voices. Eventually, the intensity starts to dissipate, even though the racehorse tempo is still implied. Then through a clever manipulation of syncopated figures, the tempo shifts down to medium as the Voices sing the verse to the song. And what marvelous group phrasing they use, with supremely executed phrases that sound like the sections of a top-line big band. At the end of the verse, the tempo shifts down again, and here - nearly halfway through the arrangement - we finally get to hear the original song! Singing the beautiful melody, Kim Nazarian deftly alternates between solo interpretation and leading the other Voices. After the melody chorus, Meader comes back on tenor sax for a sensuous duet with Nazarian over a repeated vamp. Then the band drops out as the opening a cappella section returns. The piano supports the Voices in the coda, and then there is a short and surprising return to the fast tempo before the track ends.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe