Danielle Wertz: Other Side

NYC-based singer produces an album of intense, dreamlike music coloured with jazz solos recalling players from Adderley to Metheny

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As far as I can hear there’s an ambiguity about this set which suggests that Wertz could go in one of two directions. Either she moves seamlessly into smooth-jazz territory, or she heads off in a far more personal, nuanced and rather quirky direction which manages to embrace all of those qualities while deftly dodging contrivance.

There’s evidence in support of this contention in the first two tracks, which consist of the synth wash of April 2020, then a take on Spring Is Here which incorporates a busy, archetypally fusion-esque underpinning with Wertz’s idiosyncratic take on the lyric and an alto sax solo from Priven which has the effect of ratcheting up the intensity without diluting the focus.

Rest Your Head (One For Natalie) might nestle nicely on late-night radio, and in a sense beyond the merely titular. Wertz is nicely into her own lyric and her sincerity is never in doubt, but the effect is somewhat undone for me by the double-tracking of her voice in places, which creates the effect of a piece rather more reliant on studio applications than on the spontaneity of anything that might be called jazz.

When The Walls Crumble, We Return is a title with a hint of the cryptic about it. The piece conforms, beginning with a strain of relatively safe, undemanding jazz-influenced music until proceedings are transformed by Priven, whose solo suggests a musician who knows his jazz history back to Adderley and beyond.

Discography
April 2020; Spring Is Here; Rest Your Head (One For Natalie); Hall Of Champions; A Sunday Kind Of Love; When The Walls Crumble, We Return; I Have Dreamed / Dreamsville; Turn In; Cloud Shaped Thoughts; Other Side (56.38)
Wertz (v, syn); Samuel Priven (as); Javier Santiago (p, org, elp, syn); Keith Ganz (elg, g); Owen Clapp (b); Evan Hyde (d, pc). 25th Street Recording, Oakland, California, no date(s).
Outside In Music OiM2302