Mercedes Nicole: Real Jazz

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Mercedes Nicole

By: Staff

Email: staff@thethinkering.com ►

 

Her own compositions acknowledge life's obscure and melancholy moments that so easily turn into beauty and life journeys of the many faces of love. Her music exudes strength in the midst of tenderness and often soars so freely that the listener is caught up on wings of mystery and intrigue. It makes sense then that her influences run from Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn to Nina Simone and the queen of storytelling, Nancy Wilson, with whom Mercedes shares her birthday.

Nicole's unique infatuation with music began early as a private affair, sitting at the feet of her father at age seven as he played and replayed the warped albums he treasured of the great women in jazz, Billy Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn. Seeing her complete fascination with jazz, her father began sneaking her into clubs in Los Angeles, where she spent most of her childhood and teen years seeing and hearing greats like Nancy Wilson, Bobby Hutcherson and Cal Tjader. However, being brought up as a strict Baptist; Mercedes did not venture into music like her peers in high school or college, but majored in Sociology and Social Work.

This approach completely recasts Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies." With an arrangement of descending rhythmic figures alternating with frantic 4/4 pacing, the song is updated in a clever and inventive way. The approach is the scripture on which her own compositions rest. Nicole's bright alto curls within the singer's "Hiding" and "Timeless." Pianist Marc Seales' accompaniment is spare, as are his solos. He endeavors to play only those notes necessary and this pays off. BassistEvan Flory-Barnes and West Coast-fixture brass specialist Thomas Marriott are always tasteful, never crowding the vocalist while she practices her trade rather well.

Track Listing: Feeling Good; Afro Blue Introduction; Afro Blue; Blackberry Winter; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; God Bless the Child; My Heart is Dancing; Breathe Again; Blue Skies; Timeless; Good Morning Heartache; Hiding.

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