Alison's Debut

Bruce Von Stiers

She has sung the national anthem at major sporting events and has performed in clubs both in the U.S and in Europe. She can be seen in the gospel choir in the film Pursuit of Happyness and on television in an episode of Chasing Life. Her name is Alison Lewis and she has just recorded and released her debut jazz album.

The album is titled Seven. It has seven songs, with two original compositions. Alison produced the album and it is being self-released. The album has a play time of twenty-eight minutes.

Supporting Alison's vocals are a great group of musicians. You've heard Anne King's music in commercials for Ford and Lexus and she's a mainstay in the band supporting Rod Stewart in concert. On the album, Anne is on muted trumpet. Jude Gold has played with Jefferson Starship and provided backing music for Kristin Chenowith, Eddie Money and Cathy Richardson. He plays acoustic guitar on this album. Recording with people like Todd Wees, Ricky Carter helps out on drums for one song. Paul Eastburn is on bass for a song. He's recorded with several top artists. A staple in the San Francisco jazz scene, Adam Shulman is on piano on one song. Eddie Reyes is on cojon and udu for one song.

From performing on albums for people like Bette Midler and Michael Buble to being on soundtracks for films like Get Hard and Zootopia, Andrew Synowiec is a very busy guitarist. He plays lap steel and acoustic guitars for a few songs on this album. Ray Brinker is on drums for three songs. Besides being a founding member of the Tierney Sutton Band, Brinker has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists from Pat Benatar to Diane Shure. Kevin Axt played bass on several songs. He has worked with many top performers such as Etta James, Melissa Manchester and Tierney Sutton. Mitchel Forman is on piano, Fender Rhodes and Hammond B3 organ. His credits include work with Gerry Mulligan, Phil Woods, Bill Evans and Rickie Lee Jones.

I've got to say right off that I love the arrangements of the songs. These arrangements not only gave a different feel to the music, but also allowed Alison to spotlight her great vocal range.

The first song is the great Beatles song, Blackbird. Alison has a nice, mellow arrangement with smooth, sometimes breathy vocals. At different points in the song, Alison brings the vocals up several octaves.

I've always liked the Irving Berlin song, Cheek To Cheek. Alison opens her rendition with mellow, beautiful vocals. At one point, Alison brings in an almost bluesy tone to the song before returning to close it out mellower.

Every once in a while you will hear a song that has an arrangement that is pretty different from the original, yet is great. That is how I felt when I listened to Alison sing the Bob Dylan song, Like A Rolling Stone. Alison's vocals on the song are smooth and gentle.

Getting into a bit of a bluesy torch singer mode, Alison sings it out in original song, Mr. Right For Right Now. It is a fun song about her liking her guy, but not enough to marry him.

Seesaw is the other original song on the album. Sometime breathy vocals that transition to a higher range and great piano, guitar and bass make this a fantastic song. In fact, it's my favorite song on the album.

Many artists, including Natalie Cole, have recorded the Lionel Hampton song, Midnight Sun. Alison does a nice job with the song, in front of strong bass.

Closing out the album is the Rodgers & Hart classic My Funny Valentine. This song is often done by jazz vocalists, so it's not surprising that it was included on this album. But Alison's rendition has more of a higher vocal range, mixed with some angst. It is an interesting arrangement that brings a sad, yet endearing quality to the song.

Seven is a terrific debut album. It not only spotlights the vocal talents of Alison Lewis, but her skill at song arrangement. From “re-imagining” established songs to original compositions, this album definitely gives the listener an enjoyable experience.

To learn more about Alison Lewis and her debut album, visit her official web site at .

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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers