This album is the result of two years of planning by the husband and wife team of Rich and Mimi Manners. The term "vocalise" is not new to jazz and is a technique employed in the past by the trio of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. While the trio put words to instrumental solos, the Manners team utilizes a totally "wordless" form. Jazz enthusiasts are accustomed to the scatting of Ella, Sarah, Tormé and others, but this is a departure. People of diverse language groups will interpret the sounds projected by Mimi's soprano voice differently.
Although I have no idea of what Mimi Manners is attempting to convey on the track "All Tangoed Up", I immediately envisioned a parody on vintage movies and the vocalizations of Betty Boop, Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. Other tracks require little imagination. "Brasilletta" is clearly a Brazilian inspired samba-swing and the sounds may sound like Portuguese until one listens carefully. Pure but delightful gibberish!
"Sax, La's & Audiotape" is pure scat accompanied by a fine jazz octet and Mimi seems very much at home in this environment. Look for fine solos by members of the reed section. "Reflections" is a contemplative piece for voice, violin, recorder and drums. It is reminiscent of the early works of the Quebec singer, Nicole Perrier.
"Speechless" is an enthralling album throughout and the husband & wife team have done a "bang-up job" of creating a package of very wide appeal. Jazz fans will not be disappointed with anything in the presentation. Frankly, I've played the entire CD at least ten times, discovering something new with every audition.
In summation, this offering includes superb compositions, arrangements and musicianship. Whether you like eastern or western music, "Speechless" has something for you.