Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio is an outstanding venture into the American Songbook, sprinkled with well-known secular cuts reworked into the jazz idiom with stellar results.
The adventure begins with the aptly titled “The Best is Yet to Come,” the first of 13 tracks. Initially a canonic figure between Calvert and bassist Brian Glassman, the piece segues into a full ensemble that swings hard under the singer’s dynamic phrasing. Her siren vocal style dips and swoons with confidence, command, and conviction. The connection between Ms. Calvert & the Roger Cohen Trio is felt immediately and continues until the final cut. When considering this palpable chemistry and ease of musical interaction, it’s not surprising to discover that Carter Calvert is married to the leader of the trio and producer of this CD.
“Fever,” Peggy Lee’s signature song, could be a risky choice for most vocalists, but Calvert proves she is more than up to the challenge. Her soulful delivery is guaranteed to send chills up your spine. Calvert spices the track with bluesy growls that evoke a sizzle of sexuality mixed with enough fragility to make it burn.
Ballads are always the true test of a vocalist’s stock and it is here that Calvert’s clarity, power, timbre, and control of her instrument prove that this singer is a force to be reckoned with. Her phrasing on “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” is sublime. “Crazy,” typically associated with Patsy Cline, exhibits Calvert’s ability to skillfully translate a country classic into the jazz arena. On “Send in the Clowns,” Calvert stays true to the timeless melody while making the song her own. With only piano accompaniment, it is truly a heart wrenching performance. Another standout is the understated read on “Time After Time,” featuring backing vocals by platinum selling artist Rob Evan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
“Memory,” from the Broadway hit Cats, opens with a 12/8 feel to introduce the melody. Pianist Jim West gives the tune a fresh harmonic overhaul while drummer Roger Cohen makes his entrance with a subtle, yet grooving brush feel. The tune gradually evolves into a more active 6/8 feel which gives the arrangement more drive and hints at what’s to come. The song really opens up on the piano solo when Cohen drops the brushes and digs in unapologetically with sticks. Ms. Calvert owns this cut; this rendition leaves a lasting impression and is destined to be called upon as a benchmark performance.
Moving ballads aside, make no mistake: the gal can swing! “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” demonstrates that Ms. Calvert can burn on up-tempos and the bluesy “Please Don’t Stop Him” proves she can get down and dirty. Calvert can shout it from the rooftops with the best of them. The Latin feel of “You Belong to Me” is a wonderfully fresh take on an old chestnut. This songstress has it all... and more. One listen and you are hooked.
The Sondheim classic “Not While I’m Around” is given a new treatment with a 5/4 time signature. Although the melody floats through various time signatures, it is connected seamlessly by the ensemble and Calvert’s ability to execute the complexities with a fluid ease. Roger Cohen’s drum solo demonstrates masterful command of his instrument. Cohen’s use of space in the 5/4 meter is reminiscent of Joe Morello’s landmark solo on Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. The musicality Cohen displays in his playing combined with the artistry in his arranging and producing of this CD prove that he is certainly the man behind the magic.
The last two cuts are separate, but thematically linked by lyric and emotion. The a capella “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” features Calvert’s exquisite voice in all its glory. Her diction is perfect, her pitch absolute and her delivery inspirational. This extraordinary CD closes with a stirring cover of the Peter Gabriel composition “Washing of the Water.” After the initial sparse piano accompaniment, bassist Brian Glassman enters with flawless bowing that walks along the lyric. With the entrance of the drums, the track evolves into a moving showcase for Calvert’s soulful singing. The song resolves in an emotional ending, leaving the listener inspired and uplifted by an exceptional musical experience. This exciting debut CD, Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio is the consummate marriage of song, singer, and instrumentation. One listen is all you need to recognize the resonant impact of this supremely talented vocalist and jazz trio.
Growing up in Cincinnati, Carter knew from an early age that the arts would be her lifelong pursuit. A proud graduate of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, this solid foundation is the springboard for Calvert’s highly praised and accomplished career. Downbeat Magazine named her Best Female Jazz Vocalist while she was still in high school.
On her new CD, Carter Calvert and The Roger Cohen Trio, she floats effortlessly between jazz idioms, American Songbook classics, Broadway selections and Pop hits, making each song her own with a rich, soulful sound.
Carter Calvert effervesces: her voice echoes chimes in the night...Her smoldering
grip on Fever is positively dangerous.
~The New York Times
Backing Ms. Calvert is The Roger Cohen Trio, featuring pianist Jim West, bassist Brian Glassman and drummer Roger Cohen of whom Modern Drummer Magazine stated, “Roger’s playing reveals an admirable combination of power, musical creativity and restraint.” The trio supports Calvert with maturity and originality and through masterful arrangements brings this exquisite vocalist’s full bodied range and unique articulation of jazz styles to light. Their superb musicianship is captivating and memorable. Rarely does music making happen on this level. Carter Calvert and The Roger Cohen Trio become a singular collaboration of exciting rhythms and sounds in support of the album’s diverse songs.
…a voice of smoke and fire.
~San Diego Weekly
Ms. Calvert is best known for originating her role in the Tony nominated It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues on Broadway where she co-starred with Grammy nominated Gregory Porter. Calvert’s extensive credits, including a European tour of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and the lead role of Grizabella in the Broadway national tour of Cats have given her the foundation of countless hours performing, touring and molding her voice into the powerful instrument it is today. Her transition into the jazz genre as a singular artist is already being met with critical praise.
Carter Calvert is simply incredible. Her voice is so well focused and full of power that
she can raise goose bumps. Her performance of favorites such as “Fever” is
one I’ll remember for some time to come.
~The Trenton Times
...the electric sizzle and animal heat of her performance threatens to set off the building’s sprinkler system. That gal can sure sing—not to mention her talent as a 4-alarm, come-hither vixen, sensuously slithering through this X-rated show-stopper with measured insouciance.
~New Jersey Weekly
Calvert’s television credits include: The David Letterman Show, Rosie O’Donnell
Show, and The Today Show. She has opened for Liza Minnelli, The Temptations, Chubby Checker, and Marilyn McCoo. Ms. Calvert is also an accomplished voice-over artist and can be seen in numerous national commercials including: Wendy’s, Voom, MTV, and Charles Schwab. She is currently the voice of Amazon’s Kindle Fire.