It had been a while since I had last listened to jazz singers but when I first heard Tamuz Nissim, I immediately reconnected with jazz singing. With touchingly simple melodies, Tamuz’ s debut album, The Music Stays in A Dream, is absolutely delightful. Strongly influenced by jazz icons like Sarah Vaughan, Tamuz Nissim’s vocals range from voluptuous to silvery and even delights the listeners with impeccable scatting which seems to be a cinch for her.
For this album, she enlisted her good friends Giorgos Nazos on guitar, Francesca Tandoi on piano, Vasilis Stefanopoulos on bass and George Polyhronakos on drums. The album is nicely paced, with a good range of tempos, and features 10 songs, most of which are composed by Tamuz Nissim, and which are heartfelt melodies about love and life.
The sensual mood of the album is set right from the beginning as it opens with the title track The Music Stays in a Dream, where after a short bass solo, we are introduced to Tamuz’s deep voice which seduces us immediately and where the piano and guitar both toy with her vocals. Deeper in that range, she tackles Golden Earrings, where her modulated voice is absolutely captivating. The piano solo teases the audience in and out before it sets the melody free from its Oriental twist, luring it into a jazzier piece, which is eventually joined in by Tamuz’s fluctuating vocals.
Shir, the only song sung in Hebrew, remains one of my least favourite number on the album. Nonetheless, I must admit that Tamuz’s silky voice is infused with warmth and that the short guitar solo certainly spices up the piece. Together, on the other hand, is an up-tempo piece full of pep with cheerful lyrics and which she sings in accelerando. On this piece, Tamuz leads the piano into a playful, feet-tapping solo and eventually into a dialogue with the drums before she takes over again and finishes the song by holding the notes which remind us of 1960s jazz divas. Tamuz’s clean and fruity voice in By the Window lends a jazz lounge feel to the song. The melody has a languorous tone to it, which is accentuated by the piano’s precise accompaniment, the guitar which emulates her voice and a resonant bass solo which adds to the song’s sense of loneliness. In the poetic Waltz for Winter and in the lilting Stretching the Blues, she surprises us with some scatting, which she handles effortlessly. In the former, Tamuz leads the piano into a solo which grabs your attention as it impels the melody in a dance-like movement while in Stretching the Blues, she leads the guitar into a lively solo which echoes her own scat singing before taking it to the next level.
Broken Promises is my favourite piece on the album, and probably my favourite of Tamuz Nissim’s songs. Whether it is because of the narrative or the melody itself, but it has a personal resonance for me. Comparing their vocal performance is irrelevant, and yet, Tamuz projects such sadness to that song and imbues it with a quality worthy of Nina Simone.
Tamuz Nissim’s debut album is a seductive little gem, a real feel-good endeavour. She succeeds in bringing a different feel to each piece on the album, keeping the listeners on edge, and the quintet has a distinctly honed tightness which contributes to the album’s listening pleasure. Tamuz Nissim is currently working on a second album, which should hopefully be released very soon. Her many performances on the New York jazz scene this past couple of years should undoubtedly add an interesting twist to it.