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CD REVIEW: Sandy Foster - Caramelize
By Francesco Emmanuel - 07/16/2007 - 11:08 AM EDT

Artist: Sandy Foster
Album: Caramelize
Genre: Jazz
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
CD Review: Canadian Jazz perfectionist Sandy Foster has released her fifth album in five years!

I feel I should repeat this – five albums in five years. That’s one heck of an accomplishment that not many artists can boast of, in fact; it should be a world record. Somebody needs to call Guinness Book of World Records, this should be checked out.

Caramelize is the latest by Sandy Foster who has delighted jazz audiences with all her previous efforts: Purplexed – 2003, Orangify in 2004, Marooned – 2005 and Spruce it Up released late 2006.

Caramelize is a mix of seven original compositions, three jazz standards (Bye, Bye Blackbird, My Romance, That’s All) and an original arrangement of a folk classic - (Who knows where the time goes).

‘Still’ starts off the album, with its mellow rhumba beat and Sandy singing the main melody line followed in close pursuit by flute. This is a great album opener. Definitely a dancing tune this one.

‘Let’s go for a walk’ is a soft semi-swing number, there’s a short piano solo in the bridge, where each note appeared to be carefully chosen. This, in addition to the ending piano line made the song priceless.

‘Blind Fish’ has this melodic and eloquent flute solo, followed by a silky bass solo. Sandy has this way of fitting the words right into the groove of the beat.

‘Stay awhile’ has this happy, familiar feeling to it, the arrangement of the chord progression and melody line after the verse lifts the song beyond the horizon. There’s a chirpy guitar solo, with such a warm tone, it did great justice to an already strong track.

‘To be two’ and ‘Where can you be’ are more somber, mellow piano focused numbers. They fit in amongst the happier songs and sort of add variance to what would otherwise be a very snappy, cheerful jazz album.

‘Who knows where the time goes’ is a lovely piano piece, I particularly liked how the chorus line was repeated, in a sort of syncopated fashion, the lines appeared to fit right on top of each other.

‘Bye, Bye Blackbird’ has such a snazzy guitar solo, followed by one grandeur, cascading piano solo. It was an excellent interpretation of this jazz favorite.

‘That’s All’ closes off the record, it is such a romantic song, and a fitting way to leave any listener – jazz critic or not; in a content state, and ready to play the album, all over again.

René Worst was in charge of mixing and producing the record, while Tony Chamberlist handled engineering, mixing and mastering duties.

Music on the album was handled by Kevin Andrews on flute and drums, Glenn Durksen on upright bass, Sandy Foster on keys and vocals, Andrew Glover – keys, Wes Yaciuk on guitar with guest appearances by Miles Black on keys and René Worst on upright bass.

On a side note, I recently had the honor of hearing Sandy perform live at her CD release party at Lula Lounge, June 4th, 2007. In one sentence – she is flawless! She made singing look so easy, as if she was having a conversation with melody and harmony as her two friends. The musicians who played with her were just absolutely amazing including Kevin Andrews on flute/drums (who was just so sleek with the groove and those brushes), Charlie Austin on piano(he made his piano work look like first nature, absolutely no stress, just focus and finesse), Wes Yaciuk on guitar (I particularly loved his fingerwork on many a solo that he took that nite, it seemed like a seamless flow of notes) and Toronto’s own Dave Young on upright bass (this guy has chops! amazing speed, that’s all I have to say).

I noticed throughout both sets that night, Sandy never stopped to take a drink of water in between songs, I later asked her about that. Her response was ‘when you sing for five hours at a time at some gigs, two-45 minute sets are fairly straightforward’. My next thought was – ‘Five Hours!’ This is not a jazz musician, this is a jazz perfectionist, she’s not in a class by herself, she’s creating her own class of music from scratch.

Like her previous two albums I’ve reviewed this is another fine accomplishment, fit to be right alongside all the great jazz classics of our time. I look forward to hearing Sandy’s sixth release in six years.


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