Of Peruvian parentage, Ermelinda Cuellar is resident in Houston, Texas. During and after studies in opera performance at Moores School of Music within the University of Houston, she sang at many local clubs and also performed as a member of The Jewels of Jazz at Houston’s 2019 Trinity Jazz Festival and the following year was there again, this time as a member of The Bluebonnet Blossoms.
She decided to record her own album and this was begun in December 2020, but during the first week, band member Anibal Ambert was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died a few days later. Determined that their mutual commitment would be honoured, Cuellar saw that the session was completed and the resulting album is dedicated to Ambert.
Choosing an engaging selection of songs, Cuellar includes some that are very well known, some jazz songs, and a few of her own compositions. Among the songs are Man With A Horn (Eddie DeLange-Bonnie Lake-Jack Jenney), I Could Have Danced All Night (Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe), Alone Together (Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz), Midnight Sun (Sonny Burke-Lionel Hampton-Johnny Mercer), Angelitos Negros (Alvarez Renteria-Blanco Andres), and Cuellar’s own Al Mal Tiempo and Duerme Niño.
A strong vocal sound seizes the listener’s attention and Cuellar’s interpretation of the lyrics is also very effective. Some of these lyrics are sung in English, some in Spanish, some in both languages. The album’s title song, originally the work of Mexican songwriter Maria Grever as Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado, became hugely popular with Stanley Adams’ English lyric. Its presence among the best-known songs in both languages makes it ideal for this singer.
She is very well supported by pianist Gilbert Sedeño, bassist Anthony Caceres and drummer Marlon Simon, all of whom have good solo moments. Also contributing fine solos are guitarist Greg Petito and trombonist Andre Hayward. The linking of singer with trombone is unusual and proves to be very effective, especially so when Cuellar and Hayward duet. An attractive debut album that should have wide appeal and spread Ermelinda Cuellar’s name worldwide.
Man With A Horn; Sabor A Mi; Al Mal Tiempo, Buena Cara; I Could Have Danced All Night; Midnight Sun; Angelitos Negros; What A Difference A Day Made; Duerme Niño; Who’s Crying Now; Historia De Un Amor; Alone Together (52.20)
Cuellar (v); Andre Hayward (tb); Gilbert Sedeño (p); Greg Petito (g); Anthony Caceres (b); Marlon Simon (d, pc). Houston, December 2020.