• Jonathan Widran

LISA B, Reverberant: Poems & Music

And now for something completely different…only the multi-talented jazz singer, songwriter and poet Lisa B has been weaving the kind of “must pay attention to every word” storytelling magic that we hear on Reverberant: Poems and Music throughout her unique 20-year career.

The new collection features a dynamic twist on Lisa’s usual approach of inserting spoken word segments into vocal dominated tunes. Here, complementing and in the grand tradition of recent poetry-dominated jazz excursions by Matt Wilson, Helen Sung with Dana Gioia and Benjamin Boone with Philip Levine, Lisa’s creative thrust is her seductive, clever, whimsical, provocative but always heartfelt verse – backed by the imaginative accompaniment of Bay Area musicians, pianist/keyboardists Scott R. Looney and Ben Flint, drummer Jeff Marrs, bassist Marcus Shelby and multi-instrumentalist and project engineer James Gardiner.

As skilled a jazz interpreter as she is, there’s something even more inviting about her poetry readings which prompt truly riveting listening sessions. Though she tackles subjects ranging from healing and God/divinity, the highlights are thoughtful, piercing homages to Billie Holiday (a medley of spoken word “channeling” and “Lover Man”), longtime family friend and recently departed jazz legend and poet Cecil Taylor (“I Am An Orchestra”) and Max Roach (via the percussion-rich “With Him and Max’s Solo”).

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