Elena Maque – Feel Again

Elena Maque - CD CoverVocalist, composer and saxophonist Elena Maque was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. A university-trained musician, Maque has spent years honing her craft and wowing audiences throughout Russia, Europe, and the United States. Her ability to cross-pollinate jazz with funk and pop has been a magnet for fans globally. As a result, it is not unusual to find a guest DJ scratching beats as Maque spices an up-tempo swing tune with sophistication while honoring the jazz vernacular in her execution.

Maque was already an established musician upon graduating from Mussorgsky College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia. For a few years, she toured Russia and Europe with jazz Big Band led by Gennady Golshtein, “Saxophones of St. Petersburg.” This foundation gave her a strong focal point of style that illuminates her writing and informs her playing.

After moving to the U.S., Maque began collaborating with various musicians and bands throughout Seattle. She formed the Elena Maque Quartet, garnering enthusiastic fans and ample work in the Northwest. In 2017, Elena and D’Vonne Lewis started SoulCanvas, – an art project that featured and promoted talented artists in the Northwest. Their desire was to create a platform where various musicians, dancers, artists, poets could present one of their original pieces in the context of SoulCanvas vision and style. Every few months, SoulCanvas puts up social events that feature Seattle’s finest performers and gather all kinds of art lovers to celebrate beauty and creativity. This same boundless creativity can be found in her transformative music.

In 2019, Maque began collaborating and recording her debut album with Los Angeles-based legendary keyboardist and producer Scott Kinsey. The album is filled with six well-crafted originals and three innovative interpretations of well-known classics from the jazz, Brazilian and pop idioms.

Titled Feel Again, Maque as executive producer, and Kinsey as the music producer, collaborated on the project, taking a few tunes Maque had tracked with local musicians in Seattle and combined them with new sessions tracked in Los Angeles. Featuring heavyweights such as Gary Novak (George Benson, Chick Corea, Alanis Morrisette), Hadrien Feraud (Thundercat, Chick Corea, Kamasi Washington), GRAMMY-winning guitarist Leonardo Amuedo (Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Chris Botti), the result is a tasteful blend of jazz, funk, Latin, and pop genres.

The album opens with “Hey Friend,” a Maque original that weaves an infectious groove, warmed by Maque’s buoyant and capable voice. Next, tenor saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev spins forth a righteous solo while Kinsey lays down that signature Rhodes sound he is well-known for. Up next is the classic “Lover Man.” Given a seductive and darkened hue, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo colorizes with a Montgomery-esque tone, while bassist Logan Kane presents a solid pocket and deep growl in his tone.

The Jobim smash hit “The Girl From Ipanema” certainly has been a well-traversed tune, but Maque’s version is sunny and filled with the warm breezes of Brazil. Sung in Portuguese and English, Maque’s execution is flawless. Her alto saxophone rings with confidence and panache as guitarist Amuedo adds ornamentation and commentary. The title track, “Feel Again,” also a Maque original, brims with a nightlife vibe. Gary Novak sticks with authority, while bassist Hadrien Feraud locks tightly with Novak for a tight groove. “And I Love Her” is always a favorite among the Beatles collection. Brad Dutz adds a defining percussive beat throughout the tune. While Kinsey, Feraud, Novak, and Amuedo create a wistful canvas for Maque to paint upon.

“Weightless,” a beautiful instrumental written by Maque, features Maque on soprano saxophone with an exotic flavoring that harkens the night. The tune is introspective and mournful in its timbre. Dutz once again offers depth in his auxiliary percussion as the supporting sonic by each musician is tender and weightless in its emotive. “Autumn Rain” is perfect for the season, as the album is releasing in November. Maque laments a requited love in her lyrics on this mid-tempo original. A plea of letting go and moving on. While “Chance” is the thrill of new love exhibited with varying rhythmic feels, adding interest to the song’s texture. The final song on the album is aptly titled “Like A Song.” A joyful Latin rhythm is augmented with the flute by Katisse. A great way to send off the album with a celebratory song, leaving the listener in a joyful exuberance after a satisfying listen.

Source: Kari-On Productions

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