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Attending an exhibition by Japanese abstract artist Yayoi Kusama several years ago proved to be much more than just a pleasant Manhattan afternoon for bassist and composer Adi Meyerson. The painter’s bold palette overwhelmed the musician’s senses in ways virtually incomprehensible to other gallery patrons — the Israeli-born Meyerson has synesthesia, a rare condition in which two senses overlap and certain colors and shapes are revealed as pitches. Kusama’s art spoke to her in this secret language and provoked a process that took several years to complete, the results of which comprise the six-part suite on this compelling release.
“Prelude,” the peaceful opening track, sets a mood that’s all but hypnotic. Ethereal musings are evoked by Meyerson’s bowed bass lines and spoken-word recitation by Sabeth Perez. “Kabocha,” named for a Japanese squash, begins with a similar minimalist orientation, with Kush Abadey laying down a simple drum cadence before several singers enter, one at a time, voicing “Kabocha” in a repetitive mode. The intensity builds as Meyerson’s meaty bass swaggers in, joined in short order by trumpeter Marquis Hill, flutist Anne Drummond, and Lucas Pino on bass clarinet. The horns eventually engage in a round-type structure before flying off into a free jazz frenzy.
Vocalist Camille Thurman takes two spotlight turns: “Caged Bird,” a sweet outing for flutist Drummond and funky electronic keys by Sam Towse, is a warm-blooded throwback to 1970s-era jazz fusion and funk, while the title tune is a plaintive ballad that puts the focus squarely on Thurman’s winning vocal talents.
Meyerson excels at everything she aspired to accomplish with I Want To Sing My Heart Out in Praise of Life. Her playing is commanding, laced with steely resonance and graced with a nimble attack. Her arrangements masterfully meld the disparate talents of her ensemble, while the spoken-word recitations address universal themes that demand more attention. Impressive in every regard. — Mark Holston
Featured photo by Ronald Stewart.