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REVIEW: Beth Duncan’s “Comes The Fall”

Published September 2nd, 2012 at 11:28 am in Music Reviews with no comments
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http://s1039.photobucket.com/albums/a474/johmbolaya/covers/?action=view&current=BethDuncan_cover.jpg Beth Duncan is a vocalist one could place into the jazz category, which may be the easy way to find her. But by listening to her latest album Comes The Fall (self-released), she is someone who is more than capable of being in any and all genres simply due to the versatility I hear, and simply having… a voice.

The title is meant to suggest the coming of a new season, specifically the northern hemisphere where (as I write this) autumn is only 20 days away. Put away the jams, slippers, and thongs, time to bring out the jackets in order to take in the cool breezes, and watch leaves fall. With songs like “How High The Moon”, “No Rhyme Or Reason”, and “Give Me The Simple Life”, Duncan performs the kind of songs you might imagine playing, hearing, or singing to yourself as you walk through a park watching the leaves change color. Away from the seasonal aspect, Duncan is someone who sounds like she enjoys singing and the choice of 14 songs that are on here. I say that she could sing a wide range of styles, and I wish more people in the pop/mainstream marketplace would hire people like her or Duncan herself, because she could blow away the countless “talent” who are making millions from not having voices at all. Whether you’d hear her in a concert hall, a hotel bar, or in a recording studio, Duncan defines that singing is about, because she can proudly say “I am a singer, and incredibly proud to share my talents with you”. Well, she does say exactly that, on a 14-song album called Comes The Fall. I’d love to hear her do a cover of Roni Size/Reprazent’s “Share The Fall”, to coincide with her doing “Comes The Fall”.

John Book - This is Book's Music - www.thisisbooksmusic.com

www.midwestrecord.com

BETH DUNCAN/Comes the Fall:  So deep into the works of Henry Mancini, this jazz singer even covers songs by one of his back up players, Royce Campbell.  Seemingly a hidden treasure if you aren’t conversant with the NoCal jazz scene, Duncan shows up in fine voice with some dandy off beat song choices among the standards.  A solid, sweet fast ball down the middle that reawakens you to the possibilities out there honing chops as they labor in the fields.  Tasty throughout with a real jazzbo heart at the core.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record - www.midwestrecord.com
 

http://theentertainmentbankcd.blogspot.com

Nov 8

Comes The Fall (Beth Duncan)


By Paul Anderson
Romantic music is always welcome in my playlist. Add to that a first class jazz production with with an exceptional voice like Beth Duncan's, and you have an inkling of an idea as to how good her new album, "Comes The Fall" is. “Come This Fall” is a 14 course (track) gourmet feast for the ears. The rhythm section arranging was done with guitarist Steve Homan, Mike McMullen on tenor and flute, Bill Douglass on bass, and drummer/producer Guy Kowarsh who is also the CD's producer. Featured on this session are Jim Martinez on keyboards, Babatunde Lea and Brian Kendrick on percussion. and Steve Roach on trumpet solos.


In jazz, it’s all about your sound, and Beth Duncan is blessed with a voice that has great musical range, and tonal color. She creates an enchanting blend with the tenor sax on her title track “Come This Fall”. The opening phrases immediately catch your attention, and the strings Jim Martinez provides on the keys add sweet elegance to the arrangement.
Ms Duncan’s phrasing shines on “How High The Moon”, with the duet of voice and percussion leading to  solos with the harmon muted trumpet of Steve Roach, and impressive guitar voicings from Steve Homan. Listening to this cut, one notices how clean the brushes from the drummer sound as he swings the band along with solid bass from Bill Douglass. The mix throughout the cd is excellent.


One note about the great arranging, and what I found especially enjoyable was when Beth vocalizes with the ensemble such as with the sax on “Come This Fall”, and with the guitar and flute on the jazz waltz, “I’m On A Cloud”. Recently it was only Esperanza, or the Grammy nominated Denise Donatelli's “When Lights Are Low” where I could hear intricate voice with ensemble on this level. Kudos to Steve Homan and Beth Duncan’s great talent. As a jazz musician, and radio host at KJZZ, Phoenix, I would not hesitate to recommend this to my listeners, or radio program directors across the country. If you still need convincing cue up “Embraceable You”, with voice and bass. It’s happening. Posted 22 hours ago by Labels: Beth Duncan Frankie Bailey Steve Homan Guy Kowarsh Jim Martinez Babatunde Lea music jazz Comes The Fall Mike McMullen Brian Kendrick Bill Douglass 0

Beth Duncan’s Come the Fall isn’t the purpled and foreboding project that its title might suggest. If anything, it’s exactly the opposite: An album that’s so sun-filled, so magnificently idyllic, that it only stumbles when Duncan takes on material that doesn’t showcase her essential love-struck whimsy.

Her title track here is a perfect example.  The first of a trio of originals from Martine Tabilio, “Come the Fall” finds Duncan luxuriating within a breezy rhythm, one that exudes an autumnal gold.  Tenor saxophonist Mike Mullen’s sweet, rounded interlude only adds to the sense of easy-going joy.  It may be cold outside, but there’s no wind that’s chilly enough to penetrate this song’s essential warmth.

“Wish I May,” another Tabilio original, follows – with guitarist Steve Homan, who also assisted Duncan with arrangements, taking a central role.  Drummer Guy Kowarsh switches to the brushes, giving the tune a frisky propulsion.  Duncan, meanwhile, handles the lyric with a spry hopefulness.  Homan’s solo has a plucky energy too, moving from the groove of Wes Montgomery and to the old-school swing of Herb Ellis.

“How High the Moon,” the pre-war Broadway tune turned jazz standard by Benny Goodman, is given a rumbling new percussive signature.  Duncan enters the tune all alone – a singing across her range, from brightly amorous to whisperingly cute – even as bassist Bill Douglass and Homan trade a series of well-conceived, icy cool asides.  McMullen switches to the flute for a fleet run through Royce Campbell’s “I’m On a Cloud,” with Duncan matching his runs note for thrilling note through the song’s mid-section.

A pair of Johnny Mercer tunes are also spruced up nicely:  First, “Moon River,” the warhorse co-written with Henry Mancini, is transformed by Homan’s searching guitar, and a darkly emotional vocal turn by Duncan.  Mercer’s “I Thought About You,” composed with Jimmy van Heusen, is goosed along by these air-tight syncopations between Kowarsh, Douglass and Homan.  Duncan meets the challenge, swinging hard – even while giving away none of her romantic power.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights” begins as an angular showcase for Homan before a feather-light polyrhythm signals Duncan’s entrance. (Percussionists Babatunde Lea and Brian Kendrick are like secret weapons on Come the Fall, adding these interesting colors throughout.) Homan fills in between each verse, almost like a series of winks, as Duncan goes into her lowest, most sultry register.  She stays right there for the Tabilio’s “No Rhyme or Reason,” a moment of quiet resiliency bolstered by tenor man Mullen.

Less compelling is their take on “Giant Steps.” Homan added lyrics to John Coltrane’s instrumental standard, but its constantly rising theme isn’t the best platform for Duncan.  This difficult song was simply never destined to be a singer’s showcase.

On the other hand, the zippy Lerner and Loewe number “Almost Like Being in Love,” familiar though it may be, fits Duncan’s sunny disposition like a tailored piece of eveningwear.  She makes easy work of its pixie-dusted narrative, while Mullen pushes all the way out to the edge of his horn’s sound.  Homan soon joins in, riffing and then running toward Duncan’s heady concluding coo.  She scats with similar ease on “Give Me the Simple Life,” once a wonderful vehicle for Ella Fitzgerald. Douglass’ funky thump gives Duncan plenty of room to move around inside the Gershwins’ “Embraceable You,” and she takes full advantage there, too – handling the lyric and then a thrilling wordless interlude with a charming finesse.

However, their too-sunny take on Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now,” originally written with Sarah Vaughan in mind, is another rare misstep.  Reformulated around Homan’s guitar, the song can’t match the turbulent sadness that Vaughan brought to the original – and, quite frankly, doesn’t work as an uplifting anthem.  This was an instance in which Duncan could have used a little roughening up around the edges.

Still, Come the Fall finishes on a high note – and all is forgiven. “Wish Me a Rainbow,” with a series of curly-cue runs by Mullen on the flute, is a lavishly romantic send off.


Artist: Beth Duncan

Album: Come the Fall

Reviewer: Nick DeRiso

Rating: 4 stars

http://rotcodzzaj.com/wordpress/?pag

Beth Duncan – COMES THE FALL:  Beth’s silky jazz vocals are a perfect front for the “heavy” band of jazzers (9 of them) she has lined up behind her.  As you listen & groove to “I’m On A Cloud“, you’ll hear how talented Beth (& her players) is!  There are lots of standards, all sweetly done, with pieces like “Moon River” standing out as “new listens” for you, even though you’ve heard them before – Beth grabs hold of this piece & “owns it”.  My personal favorite on the 14-track CD, though, was “Give Me The Simple Life“… high-energy love for jazz is fully evident – this one will stay on your playlists for months to come.  I give this great vocal jazz CD a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Beth’s site.      
Rotcod Zzaj - Improvijazzation Nation - http://rotcodzzaj.com/wordpress/?page_id=3538

Honolulu Star Advertiser

FRIDAY, NOV. 23
Jazz vocalist to join quartet in performance
--Courtesy photo

--Courtesy photo

Jazz singer Beth Duncan brings her rich, expressive vocals to Chinatown tonight in a performance with the Satomi Yarimizo Quartet.

The Sacramento, Calif.-based singer made a splash last year with her second CD, “Come the Fall,” earning radio play on stations in the U.S., Canada, Japan and the Netherlands. Her album features a vocal version of John Coltrane’s famous saxophone work “Giant Steps,” a harmonically difficult work that many pop singers would find challenging to even hum. Guitarist and collaborator Steve Homan wrote lyrics for it, and the result was compelling enough that many jazz stations played hers and Coltrane’s recordings one after the other.

Her voice, praised for its clear, elastic nature, complements stylishly rich arrangements and jazz standards. She makes new compositions by Bay Area-based composer Martine Tabilio sound so good they could well become standards. “Tasty throughout, with a real jazzbo heart at the core,” wrote one critic.

Where: The Dragon Upstairs, 1038 Nuuanu Ave.
When: 7 p.m. today
Cost: $10
Info: thedragonupstairs.com or 526-1411

Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Live: Jazz. theater and dance

 

 

Published: Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 - 4:00 pm

 

Jazz vocalist Beth Duncan said her fine new album, “Comes The Fall,” really came together for her when she found a trio of original songs by composer Martine Tabilio.

The songs, including the title track and Tabilio’s “Wish I May,” combine with Duncan’s love of classics such as Tadd Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights” for a rich, satisfying album of fluid, cliché-free jazz vocals with top-flight supporting players.

Duncan will present tunes from the record Sunday with her quintet. The 14-song album is produced by drummer Guy Kowarsh, and playing behind Duncan are bassist Bill Douglass, saxophonist Mike McMullen and guitarist Steve Homan, who helped with the arrangements.

There is a particularly strong percussion section with Babatunde Lea and Brian Kendrick, and pianist Jim Martinez adds keyboard string parts.

Duncan puts an original stamp on classics from the American songbook, including a couple of Johnny Mercer tunes. “Moon River,” co-written with Henry Mancini, has more of an edge than you think it might, while “I Thought About You,” composed with Jimmy van Heusen, re-imagines the song’s essential wistful melancholy. Tracks from the album have been played on more than 110 stations nationally, along with stations in Canada, Kobe, Japan, Australia and the Netherlands.

Along with Douglass, Homan and McMullen from the recording sessions, the live band has Joe Gilman on piano and Jeff Minnieweather on drums. For more information on “Comes The Fall,” go to www.bethduncan.com.

Sunday. Nov. 10. The first set starts at 5 p.m. Tickets: $5-$10. JB’s Jazz Lounge, 1401 Arden Way inside the Clarion Hotel. Reservations: (916) 723-5517, vtlee@gmail.com .


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/07/5887317/sacramento-live-jazz-theater-and.html#storylink=cpy

Inside Publications

Smooth as Silk

She’s a radio announcer by day, jazz singer by night

by Jessica Laskey

Beth Duncan can’t sit still. Whether she’s performing to the percussive beats of her favorite musical genre, jazz, or lending her mellifluous voice to radio news, Duncan is a whirling dervish of action and artistry.

“Rhythm is part of my soul,” she says with the velvet vocal resonance that has made her not just a popular jazz singer but has also kept her busy as a broadcast journalist for more than 40 years.

“I make a living off my vocal chords,” she confirms.

Duncan has had rhythm and music in her soul since she was 5 years old, when she can remember first singing in church. She could always be found in the music room at school, and she was an active participant in choir. But it wasn’t until Duncan reached her 20s that she felt like she’d finally found her voice.

“I blossomed really late,” says Duncan, who lives in River Park. “One of my heroes is Barbra Streisand. I’d listen to her voice and think, ‘Why should I even bother?’ But then I trained with a vocal coach in Berkeley, who gave me a lot of confidence and helped put my feet on the ground.”

It didn’t take long for Duncan to rediscover the jazz roots that had been lying dormant since her childhood years.

“As a little kid, my older brother loved jazz,” Duncan recalls. “He painted his room black, had bongos, and I would hear Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Mel Tormé wafting out of his room. The music washed over me and into me, so it seemed like a natural thing for me to like that kind of music. Jazz really is my first love.”

After spending time on the road singing with a rock-’n’-roll band, Duncan decided to return to her roots. Twelve years ago, she dedicated herself almost exclusively to performing and recording jazz. Her first album, “Orange Colored Sky,” was released in 2005 to critical acclaim, and her jazz journey truly began. Duncan’s second album, “Comes the Fall,” debuted last year at number 26 on CMJ’s Jazz Top-40 chart—right behind Diana Krall—and has been played on more than 110 radio stations across the world, including in Canada, Japan, Australia and the Netherlands.

For her second album, Duncan hired a publicist. “It was the best decision I ever made,” she says. “When a publicist sends it to the programmers at different radio stations, it says to them, ‘Someone who knows music has liked this—and if you listen to it, you’ll like it, too.’”

It didn’t take a publicist, however, to convince the judges of the Independent Music Awards that Duncan’s music was something special. This past July, Duncan won top honors in the Cabaret Song category for her album’s title single at the IMAs—singled out of hundreds of submissions from self-released and indie label competitors from more than 70 countries by guest judges that included Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Duncan credits her collaboration with the song’s composer, Martine Tabilio, for the song’s success. Like everything else, she’s taking the accolades in stride. 

“When peers like what you’re doing, it gives you the encouragement to continue,” Duncan says simply. “When people ask what getting an award like this means, I always say that it means I’m going to sing more. It’s not easy to be motivated. Recognition is an affirmation to keep my creativity going.”

It appears that there’s no rest for the talented. Even with a busy performance schedule and plans for a third album in the works, Duncan is still lending her veteran voice to radio news and traffic reports on stations throughout the region.

“As strange as it sounds, I keep working in broadcast media because it’s more stable,” Duncan says with a laugh. “I’ve been a reporter on KFBK, I did traffic for News 10 and I’ve been working with an independent news and traffic company called Metro Networks for the past 20 years. Just by flipping a switch, I can serve stations all over the place. I do traffic on The FISH and reporting on 1380 and Clear Channel."

Whether she’s singing standards straight or improvising around a familiar melody, Duncan does it all for the same reason she did when she was 5.
“I’m just thrilled to be singing,” she says.

Beth Duncan will perform with the Beth Duncan Jazz Sextet on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. at JB’s Lounge at the Clarion Inn (1400 Arden Way). For more information, go to bethduncan.com