You can tell a lot about a musician from the company she keeps. Ever since Sylvia Brooks started performing in the jazz realm, she has collaborated with some of the Los Angeles’ most expressive and accomplished players. On her simmering 2009 debut Dangerous Liaisons and 2012’s captivating follow up Restless she conjured an erotically-charged, noir-tinged realm by exposing the the deep currents of longing, desperation and heartache running through the American Songbook.
Her third release doesn’t dispel the shadows with sunlight so much as switch from black and white to Technicolor as Brooks revels in the vividly detailed and consistently innovative arrangements of Kim Richmond, Otmaro Ruiz, Jeff Colella, Christian Jacob, and Quinn Johnson.
From the beginning Brooks distinguished herself with her empathic ability to inhabit a song, turning classic tunes into taut and emotionally revelatory tales. In a major creative leap, she’s also telling her own stories now, contributing to three original songs that blend seamlessly with a diverse program that ranges from Cole Porter to Hank Williams to Lennon and McCartney. What unites the sleekly bespoke arrangements is Brooks’ luscious sound and inviting sensibility.
Welcoming listeners into her musical world, she takes them on an exhilarating journey deep into the hidden recesses of the human heart, where love, lust and loneliness contend for primacy. It’s a trip that requires an artist with an exquisite sound and a rarified talent for drawing the best out of her musical partners, and Sylvia Brooks has made The Arrangement.
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