Once every few years a singer emerges whose voice is so uniquely different and of such a high quality that you immediately embrace their music. Jazz singer Machan is such an artist. Her CD Motion Of Love has beautiful hues and textures, fronted by Machan’s very pretty vocals.
Machan’s voice may be familiar to you, but perhaps not her name. She has been singing professionally since she was sixteen, having shared the stage with Pink Floyd and George Benson. She also toured extensively with Sting. Motion Of Love is her sophomore project as a solo artist.
Motion Of Love was co-produced by Machan, and opens with the title track, a pretty song in which addition to singing, she also plays her nylon string guitar. The song features a great bass clarinet bridge by Rick Depofi, who shares production credits for this album.
"Motion of Love" (the song), is followed by the flirtatious "More," a tune that no doubt she found even easier to sing, since her hubby Danny Louis plays synthesizer. As is the case with the entire album, the instrumentals are wonderful. William Galison lays down some sweet harmonica licks that give the song a bit of a European ambience.
What does not work for me nearly as well is the third track "Everyday," and it has nothing to do with the quality of the music, vocals or the theme. I think it is more a matter of the wrong type of music being combined with a song that explores social issues as serious as poverty. A jazz melody has been overlaid on top of a reggae rhythm and beat. You hear in the words and mood of Machan’s vocals genuine concern and empathy for the plight of the people about whom she is singing, but running counter to that is a jovial syncopated rhythm. "Everyday," does however contain some awesome guitar riffs from John Herington, whose playing is wonderful throughout this splendid CD.
My personal favorite on the album Motion Of Love is "Little Bird," and no this is not the one you sang in elementary school, that was up high in the banana tree!; This Little Bird is making a nest outside the singer’s window and is the object of her questions about life. This is a lighthearted song with a hooky melody, a great vocalist and absolutely stunning warm notes from saxophonist Aaron Heick. In the middle of "Little Bird," we have what may very well be one of the best sax performances recorded this year. Machan establishes the rhythm, this time on a steel guitar, but has plenty of help from Heick Nanny Assis (congas), Shawn Pelton (drums), Tim Lefebvre (double bass) and Steve Gaboury (Fender Rhodes). Machan wrote the music and the lyrics, while being aided on the arrangements by Gaboury.
John Medeski plays a sweet Hammond B3 organ solo and throughout the song, his chops build a deep groove.
John Scofield (electric guitar) appears on "Beautifully Broken," and Randy Brecker’s trumpet is heard on "A Broken Heart Like This."
I could talk at length about all ten tracks on this fantastic CD, but the fun is in you discovering the music. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Machan’s Motion Of Love. I hope the tracks from this album get the airplay they richly deserve.