Daybreak from Susan Krebs with Mixed Remotions

This is the eighth album release from vocalist Susan Krebs but the first that I have heard. Daybreak is the title tune from a recording project created with the collaboration and guidance of long-time musical friends participating as musicians, arrangers, and recordists aka Mixed Remotions. The seven tracks that make up the album are all covers with fresh arrangements by members of the band (see the tracklist for details).

‘I Can’t Get Out Of This Mood’ opens with Susan singing unaccompanied before Scott Breadman on percussion and bassist Dominic Genova join in leading to the introduction of Rich Eames at the piano. The tune has a nice swing about it and the sax solo from Rob Lockart has a terrific tone. This is a good opening number that precedes the title track ‘Daybreak’ (see video at the end of this post). This is a wonderful tune with its Bossa Nova rhythm, wonderful sax playing again from Rob Lockart and a nice warm toned guitar solo from Riner Scivally. The timbre of Susan’s vocals really are a delight and her relaxed phrasing makes her very easy to listen to.

‘How Little We Know’, originally written for 1944 film To Have and Have Not, opens with piano and woodwind – this time from Doug Water – with solid support from bass and drums. This is a bright number with a wonderful solo from guitarist Riner Scivally and traded phrases between drums and woodwind, a delightful passage of playing. Susan’s vocals are bright, and the supporting role played by the piano just right; this is the standout track for me. I very much admire the singer and pianist Blossom Dearie so was pleased to see ‘Inside A Silent Tear’ on the tracklist. Susan Krebs gets to show tonal variety on this number and her diction is spot on. The musicians are superb throughout and the arrangement by Doug Walter is worthy of a mention with its sumptuous woodwind and percussive touches that lift the tune out of the ordinary.

‘Who Knows Where Time Goes’ opens with piano and clarinet which subside to allow a mildly spikey percussion and guitar change the mood for the briefest moment before the vocals join in. This is an interesting song choice as it was written by Sandy Denny when she was nineteen years of age and is, stylistically, quite different from the other six tracks on this album. However, Rich Eames has done a good job with the arrangement. He has not lost the folk element of the original tune but equally has not sacrificed the overall musical approach to the album Daybreak.

‘Listen Here’ starts in quite a sombre mood and Susan’s vocals have a mesmerising storytelling quality to them. The piano solo from Rich Eames lifts the mood and this is picked up by Rob Lockart on woodwind. The rhythm section not only maintain the pulse of the tune they also add punctuation to the words that make for a fascinating listen. The light and shade on this track is captivating and certainly benefits from repeated listening. ‘Stardust’ starts much as those familiar with tune would expect it to, a medium slow tempo led by guitar and vibes, then the percussion kicks in and the feel changes. Jerry Kalaf has written a wonderful arrangement that really makes this version stand out. Rob Lockart shines on his solo and the vibes of Jerry Kalaf remind you that ‘Stardust’ is a constant in this tune. Susan Krebs’ vocals are strong and, thankfully, do not over sentimentalise the lyrics.

This is a good album and some ways of a past era but, with very good arrangements, has a freshness about it fit for a 2021 release. Susan Krebs has chosen her personnel well and they have repaid her by supporting her vocal talent with a high standard of musicianship. This is an album that acknowledges the skill of songwriters of the past without being afraid to deliver good material in a present-day adaptation.

Tracklist:

1. Can’t Get Out of This Mood written by Frank Loesser & Jimmy McHugh arranged & mixed Jerry Kalaf.
2. Daybreak by Ferde Grofe & Harold Adamson arranged & mixed Jerry Kalaf.
3. How Little We Know by Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer arranged & mixed by Doug Walter
4. Inside A Silent Tear by Blossom Dearie and Linda Albert arranged & mixed by Doug Walter.
5. Who Knows Where the Time Goes? by Sandy Denny arranged & mixed by Rich Eames.
6. Listen Here by Dave Frishberg arranged & mixed by Rich Eames.
7. Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael & Mitchell Parish arranged & mixed Jerry Kalaf.

Musicians:

Susan Krebs – vocals; Rich Eames – piano; Jerry Kalaf – drums & vibes; Domenic Genova – bass; Scott Breadman – percussion; Riner Scivally – guitar; Rob Lockart – woodwind (tracks 1,2,5,6, &7); Doug Walter – woodwind (tracks 3 & 4).

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