Prior to receiving the press pack for the album release for Under The Stars I was blissfully unaware of San Gabriel 7 – they have been described as “a prolific and inventive recording ensemble” and this is their eleventh album release. Sinne Eeg, on the other hand, I am aware of and have admired her vocal talents for some time and so was looking forward to hearing what had been recorded. Under The Stars features ten tracks, all of which were written by Sinne Eeg – with Chrtis Gordon co-writing the lyrics to two of them – and “any album featuring the singing and writing of the multi-talented Sinne Eeg is bound to be an eleven on a scale of one-to-ten”.
The album opens with ‘Rocket Blues’, is a wordless song where Sinne Eeg’s vocals are written as if she were part of the horn section and works well. The horns and woodwind are excellent backing and accompaniment throughout. ‘I’m In The Mood for Love’ is a relaxed jazz waltz that shows off Sinne’s lyricism to good effect and the sax solo flows beautifully. ‘The Barista’ is the track I chose to introduce this album to the listeners of ‘Sounds Like Jazz’. The song is about having a crush on a guy who makes coffee. The tune is bright with a snappy opening drum pattern picked up by the horn section. The lyrics are fun and put across well and I enjoyed Kye Palmer’s trumpet solo.
The album title track is a light Bossa Nova styled tune with very nice wordless vocals from Sinne Eeg sitting amongst the written word. Chris Gordon on piano gets the opportunity to solo on this number and comes across well. ‘Getting Along With Love’ has a dance feel and features background vocals by Andrea Miller, Fletcher Sheridan, and Trist Curless. This is one of those contemporary jazz numbers that draws on other musical styles and carries it off with an admirable level of elan. ‘The Festival’ is a tune with an enjoyable celebratory Brazillian vibe about it with a wonderful trumpet solo and an equally impressive flute solo from Alex Budman: a real toe-tapper of a tune.
‘What About Love’ eases down the tempo and has a contemporary R&B feel to it. This shifts the album away from the jazzier styling that has been front and centre until this point. The playing and singing are both strong and blend very well. ‘I’m Feeling Good’ continues the contemporary R&B styling in ballad form with a good sax solo. However, as good as vocals and playing are this number doesn’t work for me but there will be others who may well mark this as a stand-out track.
‘Never Let You Go’ is another ballad but with a different time signature to ‘I’m Feeling Good’. The tune has a distinct 1950s popular music feel to it, which, like the previous track, is very well sung and played. ‘The Hymn’ brings the album to a close and is another wordless vocal featuring the excellent horn section but this time without a rhythm section backing. I like how Sinne Eegs vocals blend so well with the trumpet, emphasizing the voice as an instrument, on this hymnal ending to Under The Stars.
I enjoyed this album up to a point: that point being track seven. Whilst I could admire the final three tracks, I was unable to engage with them, which is a shame, but I do have to write as I feel. There is much to enjoy about this album – the standard of musicianship, the vocal performance of Sinne Eeg, the lyrics, and the vocal arrangements – but, for me, San Gabriel 7 and Sinne Eeg did not quite get the balance of the album right; meaning that on a scale of one to ten this album, in my opinion, did not make the eleven.
Musicians: Sinne Eeg – vocals; Chad Edwards – keyboards & Hammond B3; Chris Gordon – piano; Steve Gregory – guitar; Jonathan Pintoff – bass; Randy Drake – drums; Scott Breadman – percussion; Kye Palmer – trumpet & flugelhorn; Glen Berger – saxes, flute, oboe & Cor Anglais; Jim Lewis – trombone; Alex Budman – saxes, flute & clarinets; Dave Holben – tuba; Andrea Miller, Fletcher Sheridan, Trist Curless – backing vocals (tracks 4 & 5).
Tracklist: 1. Rocket Blues. 2. I ‘m In The Mood For Love. 3. The Barista. 4. Under The Stars. 5. Getting Along With Love. 6. The Festival. 7. What About Love. 8. I’m Feelin’ Good. 9. Never Let You Go. 10. Hymn.
All songs composed by Sinne Eeg.
Lyrics by Sinne Eeg (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10) & Chris Gordon & Sinne Eeg (2, 8).
Instrumental arrangements Dave Cushman (1-7, 9) & Chris Gordon (8, 10).
Vocal arrangements Chris Gordon (4, 5).