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“The Art of the Duo”


is vocalist Maria Jacobs’ fourth recording to date.  It represents her continuing growth as an artist. It is in many ways her most honest and compelling project.  The “Art” of the duo is no casual exercise for those who engage in the discipline of making music.  Save for the solo artist, the duo format is the most vulnerable. The solo artist has no safety net, relying completely on their skill as a communicator. There is however another kind of tightrope walk for musicians who perform in duo fashion; It involves a “trust” born of mutual respect that relies their acumen to have each other’s back. Jacob’s abilities are in full display here as she is paired in song, at once with a guitarist, a pianist and an acoustic bassist. Jacobs demonstrates with quiet  confidence, interpretations of songs tempered first through years of practice in solitude followed by the mutual conversation of agreement with musical equals. Songs that are now unveiled for you, who reap the fruit of their labors.  Eat, drink and be merry in this experience as you listen to "The Art Of The Duo.”             

                                                           

Bobby Jackson, The Jazz Mind

AMAZON

by Grady Harp

Published:  February 17, 2013


ART OF THE DUO -  Review


Standing and singing bare: the test of a supreme jazz vocalist...

That Maria Jacobs is a sensitive, gifted vocalist and stylist has been well established both in her recordings (this is her fourth solo album) and her performances. She simply is one of the more major singers of the day. The quality of her voices is absolutely first rate and the manner in which she approaches both the melody line and the lyrics of the songs she elects to interpret are uniquely her own.


This particular recording is a real chance taker. Every song in this group she sings with the support of only one of her colleagues - thus the term The Art of the Duo. We're used to hearing vocalists with piano alone - either because they sit at the piano and sing to their own accompaniment or because they team with a pianist to keep it intimate. But here Maria Jacobs has teamed with four colleagues - Bob Fraser, guitar, Steve Cipriano, guitar, Tony Dumas, Bass, and Dan Maier, keyboard - and for each of these songs she partners with one - usually guitar - and the result is some of the most plaintive and soulful singing to come across in a long time. With Bob Fraser she sings `Alone Together', `Small Day Tomorrow', and `Too Close for Comfort'; with Steve Cipriano she performs `It Could Happen to You,' Gershwin's `Summertime', `The Nearness of You', and `Poetry Man'; with just bass player Tony Dumas she pegs John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's `I Will' right on the nose, and then for the finale - `Yeh Yeh' - she keys in with Dan Maier on keyboards' but also sings with her own coupled voice as a trick of engineering that works splendidly.


Some songs are up, most are messages from the gentle but passionate heart, and few singers today would take the chance for the vocal exposure of pairing with simply one colleague in this way. Hence, the title of this album is very apropos - THE ART OF THE DUO. A big Brava! for the beautiful lady (and friends)!

Grady Harp, Amazon

CriticalJazz

by Brent Black

Published:  February 12, 2013


ART OF THE DUO - CD Review


Another female singer?...


I have to admit in the past two years there are a couple of things that have become clear to this critic. Every attractive girl "thinks" they can sing but in reality they shouldn't go within twenty miles of the nearest studio to cut a record and judging a book by the cover is wrong on about a  hundred different levels.


Now I say this because I didn't initially dig the cover art combined with the over two hundred female singers that I have reviewed with only about two dozen qualifying as "memorable."


Maria Jacobs goes in the more than memorable pile and the cover art actually pairs up with an eclectic song list nicely! So what makes Art of The Duo work? Jacobs deconstructs some amazing tunes by pairing up just the guitarist, pianist and stand up bass player to freshen up some classic songs that time and some other artists have not necessarily been kind to. "It Could Happen To You" is the iconic Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke number that also happens to be a personal favorite. Jacobs and guitarist Steve Cipriano have an amazing synergy on how to reharm a tune with a pop of vitality and allow Jacobs to own this version. Cipriano's playing fits hand in glove with the phrasing of Jacobs and the harmonic riff on this classic is sultry, warm, and one of the better versions you may run across. "Summertime" from George and Ira Gershwin is a jazz version of that sexy little black dress. Jacobs scat singing is the equivalent of textured spun gold throughout this textured melodic feast for the senses. Don't get me wrong, this is not simply a recording of standards which would be all to easy for Jacobs and friends to simply slay. Not having been a big Phoebe Snow fan, "Poetry Man" gave me some cause for some wasted concern. A beautiful reharm that respects the original and allows Jacobs that perfect opportunity to show how her skills translate effortlessly across genre and generation. This particular cover along with the Lennon and McCartney classic "I Will" are fresh, contemporary and effervescent in presentation, there are simply no bumps in the road here.


For some singers and the "female jazz singer" club is a closely packed bunch where 75% would be advised to not consider anything past church choir, karaoke night or perhaps the occasional gig at the local Hilton,  Maria Jacobs gives a vocal masterclass. A vocal artist and story teller that seems born to do exactly what she is doing. Tony Dumas is a first call bassist and as lyrically fluid as they come. Bob Fraser is another guitarist that is a perfect fit and keyboardist Dan Maier plays off Jacobs changing meter and dynamics on the fly for just another layer of texture.


I have a bad habit of holding an Independent artist to a higher standard but as an independent writer perhaps it is my way of giving what I get as well. Given the right people, the right label and proper direction my only question is when not if a major label might give her a shot.


Tracks: Alone Together; Small Day Tomorrow; Too Close For Comfort; It Could Happen To You; Summertime; Nearness of You; Poetry Man; I Will; Yeh Yeh.

Brent Black, CriticalJazz

L.A. Jazz Scene

by Scott Yanow


CHASING DREAMS - Review


Maria Jacobs has a powerful voice, is a subtle improviser and puts plenty of feeling into her singing. Born and raised in Cleveland, she had 15 years of classical flute study and also studied piano but her main musical goal was always to be a jazz singer. She won a music scholarship to Ohio State University, sang locally, and worked as a disc jockey and at WCPN as a research assistant. She lived and sang for 11 years in Los Angeles, appearing in local jazz clubs, and currently lives in the Midwest.


Chasing Dreams is her strongest jazz recording to date. Ms. Jacobs is joined by several different rhythm sections including such notables as keyboardists

Geoffrey Aymer and Richard Sherman, bassists Alphonso Johnson, Tony Dumas and Sherry Luchette, and drummers Ndugu Chancler and Ralph Penland, fine accompanists who also take occasional solos.


The repertoire is wide-ranging. the singer's long tones on “At Last” are quite effective, she swings easily on “Lullaby Of Birdland,” makes “Where Are You”

sound quite wistful, and scats up a storm on her own cooker “Chasing Dreams.” The other eight songs include a soulful “Yeh Yeh” (which features her overdubbed voices), a very haunting version of John Coltrane's “Equinox” (which has the singer's original words), an adventurous reshaping of “Just

Squeeze Me” and a scat-filled medium-tempo “It Might As Well Be Spring.”


Chasing Dreams is Maria Jacobs' strongest jazz recording to date and is easily recommended. She is a singer worth discovering.


Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Records 1917-76  More about:  Scott Yanow

JazzCorner News

Published:  May 18, 2011

by Robert Sutton


CHASING DREAMS - Review


Former DJ Maria Jacobs releases new CD brimming with soulful depth.  Every DJ probably has a singer inside them, and most of the time those dreams remain unfulfilled. But for Maria Jacobs, Chasing Dreams is a lifelong goal that will always be pursued.


Hers is a voice that is brimming with soulful depth and emotional power, once limited to introducing songs or announcing traffic on the radio. Now Jacobs finds herself on the other side of the booth; it is her record on the air, her lovely, velvety smooth vocals crooning over the airwaves.


Chasing Dreams is a knockout punch of an album. The impressive range and heartfelt feelings that her voice displays on Chasing Dreams is no amateur

hour, no ego trip of a DJ simply wanting to be on stage with the stars.


This lady can truly sing, plumb the deep recesses of the heart. Listen to her plaintive yearning on "Where Are You?" Jacobs evokes chills from the

desperation in her vocal performance. Her singing, crestfallen and bursting with unrequited longing, captures the bittersweet aftertaste of broken romance. The title track, on the other hand, reveals her versatility. She is upbeat and playful here, quite the opposite of the song preceding it. The bouncy piano and crisp drumming of "Lullaby of Birdland" seemed to inspire Jacobs to new heights; her voice absolutely soars.


Born in Cleveland, OH, Jacobs received her music education at Ohio State University. After college, Jacobs started working at regional radio stations.

When she became a research assistant at WCPN 90.3 FM in Cleveland, Jacobs discovered that music would be her life, and she wanted to absorb all of it that she could. Those influences add eclectic flavors to the sound of Chasing Dreams as well as to Jacobs' multi-dimensional vocal style.


Jacobs is still Chasing Dreams but the dynamite talent on display here guarantees that she will win this race.    JazzCorner News

L.A. Jazz Scene

by Scott Yanow


NO FRILLS - Review


Jacobs is a fine singer with an appealing voice, a subtle style and the ability to swing. lt is always fun to discover new up-and-coming talents in the jazz world.  On her debut recording "No Frills" she is joined by Mike Petrone or Robert "Skeets" Ross on piano, Martin Block or Jesse Dandy on bass, on four of the nine songs drummer Roy King and on three tunes the saxes of Gerald Linthicome.


Among the highlights are a pair of vocal-piano duets; "Black Coffee" and "You Don't Know What Love Is".


Based in Cleveland at the time of the recording (she has since relocated to L.A.), Maria Jacobs sings mostly melodic versions of standards (plus her own "No Frills"), stretching out a bit on "Corcovado," "In A Mellow Tone" and "You Don't Know What Love Is."  This is an impressive start to what should be a productive career.  More about:   Scott Yanow

WCPN, Cleveland, Ohio

by Bobby Jackson, Music Director, Liner Notes


NO FRILLS - Review


From the shores of Lake Erie comes a vocalist, gifted with talent and signs of a future filled with great promise. Maria Jacobs is a native Clevelander who

discovered her voice in jazz while attending Ohio State University in nearby Columbus.  It's been a decade of traveling back and forth from Cleveland to

Columbus and neighboring communities expanding her vocabulary and gigging with some of the hippest musicians in this Midwestern hub.  Jacobs is

determined, focused, and ready to live out this next chapter in her development as an artist.


This CD you hold in your hands represents her first opportunity to share with a larger audience some of the experiences she has gleaned over the years,

absorbing what she could from her environment both musically and personally. coating here, just favorite classic tunes she has rendered over the years.  

Rendered to the point where, in 1997, one could say she "owns" them.  Accompanying this aspiring recording artist is Mike Petrone or Robert "Skeets"

Ross on bass, Roy King on drums, a Gerald Linthicome on sax.  These musicians share a common musical heritage - the "Cleveland" sound - and this

bond comes out in the interaction among all the players on each tune. It is notoverstated or understated. It is not pretentious. It is warm.  It is real. Charlie Parker was quoted, "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."  Jacobs has a story to tell out of her own life experience, through the vehicle of music.I have no doubt it will be the first of many.   Bobby Jackson

photo by AlexaArt

Maria Jacobs

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Maria Jacobs has grown quite a bit since her earlier days when she sang jazz in Los Angeles. Born in Cleveland, she spent 11 years performing in L.A. before returning to the Midwest. Maria has since opened up her repertoire to include her own originals, folk songs (including several by Joni Mitchell), and any material that suits her interests and her voice. She has expanded her range, both vocally and in the subject matter and styles that she explores. 


Maria’s previous CD, Art Of The Duo, featured her performing duets with four different musicians including guitarist Bob Fraser. Her fifth CD as a lead
er, Here Comes Winter, matches the singer with Fraser on all but one of the 11 selections. Brian Wildman or Bob Curry play bass on five numbers, keyboardist David Strieter is on one song, and Cliff Habian is heard on piano during a duet performance of “Fall In Love Again” in addition to contributing background string patches to four selections. Otherwise the music is all Jacobs and Fraser. The result is one of the singer’s most rewarding showcases to date.

 

On Here Comes Winter, Maria Jacobs performs three songs on which she wrote both the lyrics and the music, two others that she co-composed with Cliff Habian, three Joni Michell songs, Brian Wilson’s “In My Room,” and two jazz standards. While the emphasis is on slower tempos with close interplay between the singer and the guitarist, there is a lot of variety to the performances and they always hold on to one’s attention. Whether making high notes sound effortless, displaying quiet passion, or cutting loose like the best Broadway singer (one could imagine her “Fall In Love Again” being in a show), she is quite impressive. But in addition, Maria Jacobs often sings with quiet and restrained passion, sounding quite fetching on some of the more haunting pieces.

 

Among the highpoints of this excellent set are the melancholy and thoughtful original ballad “Here Comes Winter,” the modern torch song “Till Forever Comes,” and a wonderful version of the Joni Mitchell classic “From Both Sides Now.” On “Never Will I Marry,” Maria hints at Nancy Wilson a bit and expertly scats a Cannonball Adderley solo.

 

Here Comes Winter, a milestone in the career of Maria Jacobs, is easily recommended.

 

Scott Yanow, author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers,

The Great Jazz Guitarists, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76