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REFINED BEBOP

Drapkin and Sibirsky’s ’Songs About You’ pays homage to Parker, Monk

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Two Brooklyn musicians have teamed up to record "Songs About You," a collection of 12 jazz standards and new works, on Iana Records. The second album by jazz vocalist Christiana Drapkin, "Songs About You," is a collaboration with composer and pianist Charles Sibirsky.

Drapkin, who is no stranger to jazz, has been displaying her musical eloquence in and around the New York area for over a dozen years. Sibirsky, who acts as the album’s musical director and heads the music school Slope Music with his wife Vida, plays piano and even helped pen several of the CD’s originals. The album’s tracks draw a great deal from the sounds of bebop and build upon traditional jazz standards from the likes of Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk.

Generally, "Songs about You" floats in and out of romantic space but never strays into the far reaches of sentimentality. Drapkin, a Kensington resident, maintains a firm grounding in cool wistfulness. Vocally, she cites her main influences Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday in her precise delivery. Although when she’s scatting atop fine jazz numbers like "Just Friends," she recognizes Louis Armstrong and Parker for their scatting expertise. She floats over bassist Murray Hill’s walking bassline on the album’s opener "Time on My Hands (You in My Arms)."

Sibirsky’s understated piano playing is gentle and heard favorably on songs like "You Don’t Know What Love is" and on one of his original compositions, the title track "Songs about You." Drapkin’s delicate and deliberate singing on standouts like "Open Your Heart" highlights the album’s sparse, minimalist jazz. The song, penned by Sibirsky, has a bossa nova feel that is heavily accented by the light finger-picking of guitarist John Merrill.

Other highlights of this CD include another Sibirsky original called "Formation." The song’s quick tempo and intricate rhythmic grounding is carefully laid down by the interplay between bass and piano. On "Monkery’s the Blues" we see the duo expanding on the Monk composition "Blue Monk." (Drapkin, who’s known for delving into Monk tunes live, dedicates this track to the memory of Carmen McRae, the bebop singer who passed away in 1991.) With lyrics from songwriter and jazz singer Abbey Lincoln, "Monkery’s the Blues" showcases Drapkin’s insistent vocal ability, allowing this Monk melody to truly take flight.

Another admirable jazz rendition on the album is of Parker’s "Now’s the Time," reinvented as "Procrastination Blues." The song, with its humorous lyrics written by Dori Levine, is another example of the duo’s understanding of witty words mixed with bebop sensibilities.

Drapkin and Sibirsky close with "Out of Nowhere," a standard which displays most closely the duo’s comfortable ability to collaborate smoothly. Truly, their "Songs about You," offers up subtle and refined bebop for the connoisseur of independent jazz.

 

Christiana Drapkin and Charles Sibirsky’s "Songs About You: Jazz Standards & New Tunes" (Iana Records) is available at www.cdbaby.com and www.dcjazz.com.

Drapkin will perform with bassist Stephanie Greig at Freddy’s Backroom for "Minimalist Chick Jazz" on Oct. 12, Nov. 16, Dec. 14 and Jan. 11 at 9 pm. Freddy’s is located at 485 Dean St. at Sixth Avenue in Prospect Heights. For more information about these performances, visit the Web site www.freddysbackroom.com or call (718) 622-7035. For more information about Drapkin, visit www.christianadrapkin.com.

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