Judi Silvano Cultivates Jazz Artistry On New CD, CLEOME: LIVE TAKES Release also Marks 20th Anniversary of Singer-Composer's JSL Records -- so YOU will GET A FREE JSL RECORDS SAMPLER with each order of CLEOME: Live Takes for a limited time (starting date of release September 9,2008 until February 6, 2009)Song selections from each of JSL Records' releases. The immense musicality of jazz vocalist-composer and improviser extraordinaire Judi Silvano blooms in full flower her newly released CD, Cleome: Live Takes, on JSL Records. Keenly dedicated to her expressive artistry and bold, adventuring approach to songcraft, Silvano teams up with a stellar group of collaborators on the album, including saxophonist George Garzone, bassist Michael Formanek (with John Lindberg taking over on two tracks) and drummer Gerry Hemingway, to create a vibrant garden of performances. Each of the nine songs on Cleome stands as an evocative glimpse into the soul of one of the jazz world's truly creative personalities, and as a whole this release should reminder listeners of the voice's unwavering primacy as an tuneful instrument, and Silvano's genuine gifts in this regard. To some extent the release of Cleome: Live Takes can be seen as a "re-discovery" of a nearly forgotten work. The album, after all, was completed in 2000, with most of the tracks recorded by Silvano's husband, saxophone titan Joe Lovano, in the music room of their upstate New York home. (The two cuts featuring Lindberg were taped by Jon Rosenberg at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan.) But shortly after the album was finished, Silvano and her bandmates were setting up a tour France and Belgium when the singer made the acquaintance of famed pianist-composer Mal Waldron, who was performing in New York but had been living in Brussels for many years. The two hit it off together so well-Silvano says that Waldron and Barry Harris, whom she studied with, served as mentors to her-that arrangements were made for a duo recording to be made at Radio Belgium during the singer's stay in Europe. Released in 2002 to wide acclaim, Riding a Zephyr emphasized Silvano's remarkable interpretative skills in a bare bones, straight-forward jazz setting, while also giving listeners an opportunity to relish the high art of an ivoryist who'd previously accompanied Billie Holiday and Abbey Lincoln. However, as Robert Frost once noted, "way leads on to way": Silvano's delving into standards during the Waldron sessions made her realize that she was singing some of her mother's favorite songs, and since her mother's 80th birthday was nearing...The singer's next project became an album of her mother's all-time favorite love songs, Let Yourself Go, which included exquisite renditions by Silvano of "Let's Fall in Love," "I Could Write a Book" the Gershwins' "Love is Here to Stay," and much more, backed by the likes of pianist-arranger Michael Abene, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and saxophonist Dick Oatts. By 2005, not only had Silvano released Let Yourself Go (receiving, again, enthusiastic approval for her efforts), the singer had issued on JSL Records two albums of definitive New Age music as part of her "Sound Garden" series. Spirit Music, a program to accompany yoga, meditation and massage, was recorded with Silvano providing voices, flute and percussion, plus Lovano adding bass clarinet, recorder and percussion; and Celestial Voices, aiming to abet healing and meditation, brings together Silvano, Kyoko Kitamura and Marlena Primavera as the "Voices Together" ensemble. Silvano regularly directs her energies toward producing numerous musical events, and for several years has led various musical celebrations of women songwriters and jazz artists. In 2007 the singer released on JSL one such performance from the previous year, Women's Work: Live at Sweet Rhythm NYC. Backed by a top-notch rhythm section (pianist Janice Friedman, bassist Jennifer Vincent and drummer Allison Miller), Silvano shines on another straight-forward program that mixes a few of her originals with songs by Mary Lou Williams, Blossom Dearie and Carla Bley, among others. DownBeat said the album "finds the singer at the peak of her creative game." Back to Cleome: Live Takes. Botanically speaking, the Cleome genus consists of tropical, shrubby plants with conspicuously showy flowers, much like small bursts of fireworks. These are most commonly known as spider plants, and Silvano makes sure that the annuals grow in her garden each summer. They are strange, exotic looking plants-quiet beautiful, and out of the ordinary. Cleome is appropriately titled in this context because Silvano's vocals, overwhelmingly wordless throughout and often matched with Garzone's saxophone playing, create an uncanny aura in which melody and improvisation mingle, bringing the listener to a dimension not usually approachable on most jazz vocal recordings. The title track of Cleome leads off the album, with Formanek and Hemingway setting up an otherwordly rhythm that Silvano and Garzone, on bass clarinet, limn a melody to before embarking on tandem sparring and separate soloing. "Yapi Credi," a haunting eight-and-half minute composition inspired by a trip to Turkey that highlights Silvano's vocal range and timbre control, and "Boscarob," written in honor of two musical colleagues (Bob Meyer and Oscar Noriega), follow a similar structure that let's the improvisers toy with an arresting groove. A slow, yearning version of Silvano's dreamy "Bougainville" (the tune is taken at a quicker tempo on Women's Work) complements the sublimely languid "Cocalalla Land" and "Dobranotz," the latter tune (which means "goodnight" in Polish) sounding like a lullaby. Rounding off the album are the two songs not penned by Silvano-a charming and playful rendition of Sun Ra's "Love in Outer Space" and the Japanese folk song "Sakura," which Silvano sang as a child-plus one instrumental number, "Hand and Heart," with Silvano featured on alto flute. Originally from Philadelphia, Silvano first started her musical journey on the flute in grade school but then focused on voice and dance while a student at Temple University. After moving to New York City to pursue a career in modern dance, she began working with an improv group that was regularly teaming up with a number of budding young jazz artists, including Lovano. Together they have enjoyed an intensely creative partnership that has lasted over 25 years and resulted in countless musical projects, including a number of highly regarded jazz recordings led by Lovano, like Universal Language and Rush Hour. Their utter commitment to the aesthetic of jazz improvisation permeates their art, whether the setting is straight-forward or avant-garde. On Cleome: Live Takes Silvano's ability to oversee and participate in a collective whose members can craft compelling arrangements "in the moment" that show them listening deeply to each other can, at last, be fully recognized. Rarely has music that was created so spontaneously sound like it was meant to be. So, it is no surprise to hear that it is Judi Silvano who can courageously re-connect jazz vocal artistry with the idiom's innate freedom of expression on a truly timeless recording. End/.