Ellen Honert’s new CD, Hummingville, is a testament to the growth and artistic development that this native of the Netherlands has experienced since her 2006 release entitled, Breath of the Soul. Honert and renowned Bay Area producer Frank Martin teamed up again to compile six original selections (all co-authored with Martin) and seven covers with musical arrangements by Martin. The mood of the CD is best described by Honert’s statement; "I want my music to convey the essence of what it’s like to be fully alive...that complex bitter-sweet feeling when you truly open your heart to living." Drawing upon her culturally diverse background of growing up in the Netherlands and traveling with her parents in early childhood to Spain, Greece, France, North Africa and South America, Honert conveys a variety of musical influences and interest throughout Hummingville.
The title track is an excellent example of Honert’s vocal diversity. Set to a swinging samba beat, Honert’s full voice executes the wide spanning melody with great intonation, diction, and rhythmic clarity. Honert’s lyrics flow and convey an interesting storyline of love and its transforming emotions. From fast sixteenth note passages, to long sustaining notes, Honert’s vocal control is always evident and musical. After the initial statement of the melody, a beautifully crafted interlude melody with Honert’s voice singing only syllables (ala "Spain") is introduced. The listener really gets to hear the full range of Honert’s vocal quality in this selection, I really enjoyed the high notes, slightly stressed, but totally in control and fully voiced. John Pena’s bass work on this selection is very nice and seems to truly inspire flautist Pedro Eustache fills and solos.
"Le Phare" is a hauntingly beautiful melody sung in French that displays the symbiotic relation of Honert and Martin, both as songwriters and performers. Martin’s accompaniment is always supportive and musical, allowing the listener to enjoy Honert’s elegant voice in a well voiced and creative setting. Martin’s solo work is full of long motivic developments and fluid fast runs. We are treated to another great orchestration of Honert’s voice singing syllables with Martin adding well placed fills until a second contrapuntal vocal line is added to build the selection to a cadence.
Hummingville is a well crafted second CD for vocalist Ellen Honert and collaborator Frank Martin. The music is creative and refreshing. The sound quality is excellent and the musical chemistry of the players is evident throughout the project. Hummingville, conveys many musical styles and textures; the common tone throughout the project is that it is sung with the emotion from an open heart.