Maja Jaku: Soul Searching

Powerful Vienna-based singer links up with Jim Rotondi and other top-flight soloists in a bluesy, funky set including The Jody Grind

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Ms Jaku has a strong, powerful voice which is well suited to jazz vocals. She is here blessed with a tightly cohesive five-piece combo in which Jim Rotondi on trumpet and Thomas Kugi on tenor sax shine. Rotondi also features as an individual trumpet voice where his lyrical, laidback sound is highly effective. Mutic takes care of the piano accompaniment and solos well, when called upon.

The repertoire includes three originals by Dave Scott, while Maja has written her own Be Real and My Blues. She manages an original reading of Holiday’s God Bless The Child, not the easiest thing for a vocalist and has her own take on Horace Silver’s The Jody Grind.

The album as a whole would, I think, have benefited from a change of tempo here and there. Almost all selections are slow or medium tempo and an up and medium-up would have given more variety, as would a standard or two rather than mostly unfamiliar material. Maja is at her best on the shifting tempos of The Jody Grind and she introduces some scat singing here and there.

Ms Jaku puts Rise And Shine across with a powerful vocal and works hard on My Blues. Kugi and Rotondi deliver tasty solos all through and the rhythm team support more than adequately. This is a good jazz vocal CD which might have been even better with more attention to tempo and general variety.

Discography
Rise And Shine; Be Real; Power To The People; My Blues; I Love You So; God Bless The Child; The Jody Grind; Like Euridice (40.18)
Jaku (v); Jim Rotondi (t); Thomas Kugi (ts); Sasa Mutic (p); Dusan Simovic (elb); Joris Dudli (d). Vienna, 24-26 September 2021.
ATS CD-0987