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Lauren Henderson: Sombras

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Vocalist, Composer, Producer Lauren Henderson
Vocalist, Composer, Producer Lauren Henderson

All of the prodigious gifts of Lauren Henderson have come together on her recording Sombras. Her fluency in two languages – Spanish and English – is non pareil. What’s more, her ability to express herself in a most smoky and alluring voice is utterly dazzling.

But to evoke dark and light emotions and conclude the phrases that annunciate the narratives from whence they came is most affecting, not the least because of her delicate, quivering vibrato. All this has made her a very singular and beckoning vocalist.

But Sombras introduces us to the Miss Henderson, the composer and orchestrator. This is where she shines in an incredibly distinct way. Melodic lines are fluid, harmonic and rhythmic conceptions are the very epitomé of perfection.

Lauren Henderson: Sombras [album cover]
Lauren Henderson: Sombras [album cover]

It would appear that Miss Henderson has mastered all of the essential elements of song. The result is the entire repertoire shows her to have matured into a quintessential artist, whose musicality has now clearly broken through an imaginary ceiling and into a rarefied realm.

Throughout, Miss Henderson – eschewing sentimentality – is in complete control of her emotions. We sense this right out of the gate, in the crackling intensity of Fuego. The recording builds in intensity as she rings in the mood changes through Seasons, the tenebrous Sombras [and its English equivalent, Shadows], the heart-breaking and bitter Tormento to the delicacy of Dignidad.

Through it all, Miss Henderson distinguishes herself by sculpting the most beauteous lyrical lines, digging into the meaning of each word and infusing phrases with an incredibly special grace.

It does help enormously that the leader is surrounded by artists whose sublime interpretation of this music is wonderfully idiomatic throughout.

The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony, and rhythm through each improvisation – from the vibraphone exquisite player Joel Ross, the pianist sensitive pianist Sean Mason, and the rolling thunder of bassist Jonathan Michel and the drummer and percussion colourist Joe Dyson – highlights impressive individuality and respect for tradition.

Altogether this is a rather special recording – all too short yet leaving the listener wanting more with great expectation. What will Miss Henderson serve up next? We can hardly wait.

Deo gratis…

The title song ‘Sombras’ from Lauren Henderson’s beautiful album

Music – 1. Fuego; 2. Seasons; 3. Venas; 4. Sombras; 5. Illumination; 6. Tormento; 7. Walking; 8. Dignidad; 9. Shadows.

Musicians – Lauren Henderson: vocals; Joel Ross: vibraphone; Sean Mason: piano; Jonathan Michel: bass; Joe Dyson: drums and percussion.

Released – 2024
Label – Brontosaurus Records [BR 2401]
[brontosaurusrecords.com]
Runtime – 32:03

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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