By Jeff Becker
Tianna Hall is back with a new release entitled, Two for the Road. Hall delivers another project filled with a refined, marvelous voice that sparkles and emotes rhythms filled with the feeling of life — romance, passion, and love all supported with a swinging and creative rhythm section.
Two for the Road is a collection of fourteen well-chosen selections from jazz vocalist Tianna Hall in collaboration with a solid core of musicians; acoustic bassist Agustin Bernal, pianist/arranger Miguel Villicaña and Gabriel Puentes of The Mexico City Jazz Trio. Hall’s relationship with the trio began after meeting Agustin Bernal at a jazz festival they were both performing at in Guadalajara, Mexico. After performing together Mr. Bernal invited Tianna to come to Mexico City and record with his trio in 2004.
A swinging version of “Til There Was You” starts the road trip off with well-placed hits from the band and Hall’s rich voice propelling the melody with articulated assurance. Bassist Agustin Bernal takes the wheel for the first solo providing plenty of twists and turns through his melodic road map throughout Coltrane’s town of “Giant Steps.” The selection keeps moving forward by the swingin’ phrasing of pianist Migeul Villicaña as he too provides musical statements of creative drive.
Hall has put together a delightful set list on Two For The Road. We are treated to fresh arrangements and melodic interpretations on such classics as: “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter,” and “Moon River.” However, Hall has chosen a few selections from outside the standard arena such as; Radiohead’s “Creep,” Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” These selections are surprising gems on this musical road trip that have been given arrangements and sung in such a way that fits right in with the well-known standards, but provides a moment of surprise along the journey.
“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is augmented by special guest artists; vocalist/saxophonist David Caceres resulting in a stirring vocal duet with Hall. Guitarist Mike Wheeler is joined by cellist Lisa Vosdoganes to accompany Hall’s rich voice on the title track “Two for the Road” giving a quiet close to this enjoyable road trip.
Two for the Road is a journey worth embarking on with vocalist Hall. Her honey dripped vocal style is like a sexual burn that last well past the experience. Backed by a swingin’ ensemble this is easily the best vocal album I have heard all year, and believe me; I get sent plenty of them. Hall is meant to sing jazz, and this reviewer hopes to hear many albums in the future, we need great jazz vocalists such as this in an genre filled with aspiring jazz vocalists.