Artist: AS IS
Album: HERE’S TO LIFE
© Copyright 2017 – Stacey and Alan Schulman
Reviewed By Scott Yanow
Jazz Artistry Now – “As Is” is the name of the musical partnership of singer Stacey Shulman and her husband guitarist Alan Schulman. Stacey has been a professional vocalist since she was nine and has done extensive studio work in New York. Alan, who studied with guitarist Cal Collins, has worked in a variety of settings including with Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock. Together the Schulman’s made their recording debut on the duo album A Love Like Ours.
Here’s To Life features the couple with a larger group that includes one of three bassists, drummer Marcus Baylor, occasionally Alejandro Lunici on percussion, up to three background singers, a string quintet on two songs, and three guest artists. Stacey Schulman, who underwent an eight-year battle with Lyme disease that for a time made it difficult for her to control her vocal chords, fortunately, shows no sign of any ailment on this set, sounding like she made a complete recovery.
On the varied set, the Schulmans perform songs from several different eras, covering a variety of moods and tempos. The opener, the fast waltz “In The Name Of Love,” features some hot scat-singing, heated guitar playing and hard-swinging by the rhythm section. “A Night In Tunisia” is given an interesting transformation, beginning and ending with a quote from “Caravan” and again including some solid scat-singing which this time is backed by the other singers. On “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” Ms. Schulman sings the bossa-nova in French and is given tasteful accompaniment by her husband.
But after that start, it becomes obvious that Stacey Schulman’s real strength is on ballads that fully display the beauty and strength of her voice. She performs a memorable medley of “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “The Look Of Love” and “It’s Too Late” with a guest appearance from harmonica player Gregoire Moret. Her voice is quite fetching on “When October Goes,” one of the songs with a small string section. After the brief “Navins Ditty” which puts the spotlight on Navin Girishankar’s tabla playing, the group does a fine remake of the Randy Crawford/Crusaders hit “Street Life.” They remain in a soulful mood on “Save Your Love For Me” which has a lyrical alto solo from David Binney in his only appearance.
Stacey Schulman gives a slow, thoughtful and often out-of-tempo interpretation of Janis Ian’s “Some People’s Lives.” Showing off her versatility, she is in top form on a medium-tempo cooking version of “Willow Weep For Me” which also features Moret. The enjoyable program concludes with a happy version of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” (which shows off the power of Stacey’s voice) and a slow and expressive reading of “Here’s To Life.”
Here’s To Life serves as an excellent introduction to the music of Stacey and Alan Schulman.
- In The Name Of Love
- A Night In Tunisia
- La Belle Dame Sans Regrets
- It Ain’t Necessarily So
- When October Goes
- Navins Ditty
- Street Life
- Save Your Love For Me
- Some People’s Lives
- Willow Weep For Me
- Here’s To Life
Stacey Schulman, vocals
Alan Schulman, guitar
Rashaan Carter, Kevin Powe Jr. or Matt Geraghty, bass
Marcus Baylor, drums
Alejandro Lucini, percussion
Christie Dashiell, Carl “Kokayi” Walker, background vocals
James McKinney, background vocals, vibes, percussion, string arrangements
Gregoire Maret, harmonica on “It Ain’t Necessarily So Medley” and “Willow Weep For Me”
Navin Girishankar, tabla on “Navin’s Ditty” and “Street Life”
David Binney, alto sax on “Save Your Love For Me”
String Quintet on “When October Goes” and “Here’s To Life”
Also, see: AsIsJazz.com
Listen and purchase a copy online at iTunes / Amazon / Google Music.
The Jazz Artistry Now review of Here’s To Life was written by Scott Yanow.
Mr. Yanow has written 11 books on jazz, over 800 liner notes, and more than 20,000 recording reviews through the years.
His writing has graced virtually all of the top jazz magazines and he is happy to be a new contributor to Jazz Artistry Now.