Bassist Steve Haines’ latest release blends jazz band and full orchestra for an impressive and ambitious album, combining originals and well-chosen covers. The atmosphere shifts from more typical orchestral style such as Here Are Our Hearts, to the more jazz influenced, such as Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, in a seamless and expert manner.
In the liner notes, Haines writes that the idea was to arrange the songs around vocalist Becca Stevens and saxophonist Chad Eby, and this is done very well. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah opens with a fantastic horn section, which falls away to allow Stevens to lead the track with an ever-growing arrangement, ending with an orchestral crescendo.
Eby performs an excellent staccato solo on the more contemporary Canyon Dust, as well as putting a twist on the traditional Come All You Fair Ladies. The final song, Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind, is arranged superbly, with the vocals and string section supported by swelling brass and woodwind.
Overall, Haines’ album is a very intriguing listen. There is great originality, and combined with some well-known songs, the result is fresh and engaging, and the variety of tracks holds lots that will be found appealing by fans of jazz and orchestral music.
Here Are Our Hearts; No More; Come All You Fair And Tender Ladies; You; Harvest Moon; Mazurka Opus 17 No. 4; Patio Lanterns; What I’ve Seen; Hallelujah; Canyon Dust; If You Could Read My Mind (56.51)
Kevin Geraldi (cond); Becca Stevens (v); Chad Eby (ss); Joey Calderazzo (p); Greg Hyslop (g); Haines (arr, b); Kobie Watkins (d). The Third Floor Orchestra. North Carolina, 2017-2018.
Justin Time JTR 8616-2