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  1. Just One Of Those Things (4:00)

  2. Broken Ballerina (3:51)

  3. Say It Isn’t So (3:23)

  4. Custom Memories (5:05)

  5. Lady Hip’s Great Escape (3:35)

  6. Hot Knife (3:26)

  7. Moon Ray (5:46)

  8. Doesn’t Do (3:46)

  9. Ugly Beauty (1:41)

  10. You Don’t Know What Love Is (6:00)


    Nicole Saphos: upright bass and vocals

    John Lee: guitar

    Ele Rubenstein: drums


    Nicole Saphos is a bassist, singer and composer who began playing double bass at the age of eleven. She studied jazz bass at Temple University in Philadelphia, and in 2012 formed her own jazz trio in Washington D.C., where she still performs regularly. Her current group is named the NS Trio, and features guitarist John Lee and drummer Ele Rubenstein. This disc is her debut album and presents ten songs, including four of her own compositions. Doesn’t Do is one of her best originals, a slow funk ballad with an interesting bass line and chord changes, engaging lyrics and vocal delivery, and soaring special effects by master guitarist John Lee. Nicole’s singing voice is thin, expressive, and wanders around the pitch, making her songs off-beat and interesting. Just One Of Those Things was written by Cole Porter and first appeared in the 1935 musical Jubilee. The trio performs a lively, energetic version, leading off with Nicole’s endearing vocals followed by tight and creative drum and guitar solos. Irving Berlin’s standard Say It Isn’t So was first published in 1932, and has been recorded by many artists. The trio gives the song a similar treatment with another brisk arrangement, this time opening with Nicole stylishly singing to her own bass accompaniment. The tune Hot Knife, written by Fiona Apple, opens with a quick jungle rhythm on drums, and interesting vocal effects which sound like Nicole singing through a mute. One of the most intriguing songs in this collection is Moon Ray, composed by Artie Shaw, Nat Madison and Arthur Quenzer. The haunting ballad was first recorded by Artie Shaw’s Orchestra in 1939 with Helen Forrest providing vocals. The trio’s version showcases Nicole’s vocal range and enchanting delivery, matched by John Lee’s incredible guitar and foot pedal special effects, and blended together with smooth and varied drum accompaniment.

    This music was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jeff Gruber at Blue House Productions in Maryland. The album was produced by Nicole Saphos and released in November, 2016. No booklet is included, and liner notes and photographs are limited to the disc cover. The sound quality is very good.

    Bruce McCollum


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