Heidi Vogel ‘Turn up the quiet’ (Far Out) 4/5

Having gained useful experience as a vocalist with the Cinematic Orchestra, who have over a decade or so expertly brought together disparate elements of electronica, jazz and expansive soundtrack music, Heidi Vogel has branched out with her debut as leader and it is one of the year’s most pleasant surprises and a triumphant attempt at reworking the Brazilian songbook for the twenty-first century. Vogel is supported by a terrific A-list of musicians who contribute just the right dose of sensitivity with the late Austin Peralta (who tragically passed away at the age of twenty-two and this is surely a tribute album to him) and and jazz pianist Ivo Neame sharing duties. while elsewhere Cleveland Watkiss shares vocal duties on some songs. The album as a whole is a cohesive effort that is also diverse in its wide ranging use of material and this varies from 1960s bossa to 1980s MPB. A gorgeous version of ‘Black Narcissus’ that both Joe Henderson and Flora so memorably recorded is beautifully structured, retaining its essential jazz essence, while Jobim’s ‘Dindi’ compares favourably with the version by Jean Carne. The sparse accompaniment overall is ideal for Vogel’s husky, laid back delivery and she excels on the mid-paced numbers such as ‘Bonita’, Modinha’ and the opener ‘Medo de amar’. For a little variety, the Joao Donato-penned piece ‘The Frog’ is an uptempo vehicle on which Vogel delivers the goods with aplomb while there is a lovely English language take on Ivan Lins’ ‘Love Dance’ which George Benson covered on his ‘Give Me the Night’ album. This latter version may well have served as the inspiration here. If one had to make any direct parallel, then it would surely be with Arto Lindsay who has an intimate knowledge of Brazilian music, culture and language, and that is a big compliment to Vogel since her voice is ideally suited to Brazilian flavours. That said, Heidi Vogel has not had the same cultural exposure to Brazilian daily life that Lindsay has and in this sense a comparison with Nat King Cole, who recorded two albums of Cuban music back in the 1950s giving the songs his own idiosyncratic interpretation, may be more pertinent. Either way, Heidi Vogel should pursue further explorations in Brazilian music for her voice. It would be fascinating to know what Brazilians make of her voice. Tim Stenhouse

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