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Biali, Laila - Introducing

Format: CD
Label: CBC Records
Year: 2005
Origin: Toronto, Ontario
Genre: jazz
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Release Type: Albums
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In my recent report on this Trio’s CD release performance at the Montreal Bistro, I alluded to Laila’s progress towards the throne of Diana Krall. After listening to the CD, particularly her turbo-driven attack ‘in Portuguese’ on Jobim’s “One Note Samba”, and her declamatory backward look at life in “Glory Days”, I suggest Emilie-Claire Barlow could be checking her rearview mirror.

In that report on the Bistro performance, I focused on the felicitous balance of the Trio. Here, what shall I choose? Laila as composer? arranger? pianist? vocalist? How about this: in everyone of those areas, she goes all out, and then some.

Singing in public is new for her, and on this album, characteristically, she puts it right out into the spotlight with an opening sequence of Standards and her own compositions. Laila takes a daring, improvised jazz approach to the tempos and phrasing of the Standards, which I don’t always care for, particularly in the slow ballads like Romberg and Hammerstein’s “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,” and “Body and Soul,” (Green et al.). Her own compositions are youthful and also daring, like the romantic “You Kissed Me (With Your Words),” and the spectacularly speedy, almost chanted ”Glory Days,” which I liked a lot.

Tara Davidson’s alto sax spreads a fine blue wash over the nostalgic “Good Earth,” an attractive tune with a lyric feeling that reminds me of Coltrane’s legendary rendition of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “My Favourite Things.”

“Castles” opens with some angelic vocalizing by herself. Outstanding in this number is Brandi Disterheft’s Bass countermelody in dark walnut tones.

“Groovelicious”-- dedicated to Brandi—is a delightful piece of ensemble work in which Laila’s trilling piano’s every shift of tempo is supported with originality by Brandi’s bouncing Bass and the cunningly decorative drumming of Sly Juhas. Totally in the groove.

Laila’s piano compositions tend to build by ripples and terrace up to thunderous crescendos from which she climbs down playfully to a close.

The album, which Laila produced herself, is recorded and edited by John Loach and beautifully mixed by Jake Langley.


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