Ariel Pocock, 'Touchstone,' Justin Time Records (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt on Sep 30, 2015 02:18 PM EDT
Ariel Pocock Ariel Pocock plays like someone beyond her years on 'Touchstone' debut. (Photo : Christopher Drukker)

"Yes it's me and I'm in love again."-Fats Domino. Falling in love certainly is wonderful. I do it all the time. Meet my latest: the beautiful and talented 22-year-old Northwesterner, Ariel Pocock, who won the "Essentially Ellington" Lincoln Center competition as "Outstanding Pianist" and the Kobe-Seattle International Jazz Vocal Competition, walking away with the "Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Vocalist" prize. Her Touchstone debut on Justin Time Records is a delightful affair.

Producer Matt Pierson worked with her in picking a wide range of material that suits her subtly sexy Norah Jones-styled crooning vocals. And what picks they are! Randy Newman ("Real Emotional Girl"), James Taylor ("You Can Close Your Eyes"), Tom Waits ("Rainbow Sleeves") and Kate Bush ("Mother Stands For Comfort") never sounded this jazzy, rearranged and improvised in the studio for more instrumental movement by her and her super-band of jazz stalwarts (bassist Larry Grenadier, guitarist Julian Lage, drummer Eric Harland and tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake.)

Besides the obligatory "great American songbook" tracks like "Exactly Like You," "All The Things You Are" and "When I Fall In Love" (the three least interesting of the batch), she tackles Monk ("Ugly Beauty/Still We Dream") and Keith Jarrett ("Country")--no small feat!--like a seasoned pro. Plus, she writes. Her "Barrel Role" swings mightily. Her accompaniment is so stellar and her comping behind the solos is so in tune with the direction and heft of the seasoned artistry all around her, it's easy to envision a long career in front of her. Unwanted advice: don't go pop!

By CD's end, you're left wanting more.

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TagsAriel Pocock, Justin Time Records, Essentially Ellington competition, REVIEW

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