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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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A Sea of Voices

Tie Records TIE 1276



1. Hymn of the Tides
2. How Deep is the Ocean
3. Steam
4. Shenandoah
5. Rocky Top
6. Loving Beauty
7. Swallowed in the Sea
8. With You
9. Holy Water
10. Alfonsina y el Mar.

Jamie Ousley - Double bass
Joe Davidian - Piano
Austin McMahon - Drums, cajon
Nanami Morikawa - Vocals (track 4)
Gabriel Saientz - Piano (track 10)
Carlomagno Araya - Percussion (tracks 5, 7)


Jamie Ousley is a bass player who is professor of jazz bass at Florida International University in Miami. His group is basically a piano trio with occasional guests. Thankfully, in these days where melody seems to have been forgotten, this group revels in melody - whether originals by Ousley or a few standards like a gorgeous How Deep is the Ocean. The unifying theme of the album is water and it has the free-flowing gentleness of a stream.

Some of the tunes sound like folk songs - and indeed, there is a moving performance of Shenandoah, sung by Japanese vocalist Nanami Morikawa with accompaniment from Ousley's double bass on its own (ravishingly resonant). The bass solos seem to stick to the folk theme by being four-square rather than swinging, although pianist Joe Davidian often breaks into swing. But the main effect of the music is delicacy, which is almost Mozartian at times. In Ousley's Loving Beauty, Davidian's piano is radiant. And his interpretation of Irving Berlin's How Deep is the Ocean pulses along inventively while subtly altering the expected beat.

I don't want to give the impression that this is wishy-washy music, as it contains plenty of vigour. For example, in Ousley's original Steam, his double bass drives the music along powerfully. Coldplay's Swallowed in the Sea has firm arco bass, while Ousley's With You is pepped up by Latin-American rhythm and good solos from bass and drums.

 I'm not a great fan of the environmental or religious concerns voiced by Ousley in the accompanying literature but I can overlook this because of the beauty of the music. Too many albums these days depend on riffs and mere tinkling, but this album has melodic appeal in spades and is beautifully recorded to catch all the musical nuances of the group. Highly recommended.


Tony Augarde

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