Lois Bruno, And So It Begins
by Stamish Malcuss
Lois Bruno might be a new name to some, but her credential proceeds her. Being afforded the opportunity to perform with many notable musicians, including George Cables, Billy Cobham, and Bill Mobley, it was these experiences that helped shape Bruno along with performing at countless events and clubs. These experiences give her debut album, And So It Begins a finesse and polish not customarily heard on first releases. Bruno is backed by a solid cavalcade of New York musicians including Kenny Shanker on saxophone, Mike Eckroth on piano, Yoshi Waki on bass, and Brian Fishler on drums. The album traverses the nostalgia of Bruno’s era, and this connection is evident within each tune and its delivery.
The album kicks off with “When Sunny Get’s Blue,” written by Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal. The song was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis and Ray Conniff and his Orchestra in 1956 and became a big hit. Eckroth sets up a nice intro with Waki supporting gently for Bruno’s entrance. There is immediately something retro about Bruno’s style that fits nicely. Like Billie Holiday, Bruno has a voice that is focused and delves deep into the emotive of the lyric. Her acumen is in full view on “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” as Bruno accentuates the lyric with an A Capella intro that gives way to a slow simmering ballad. The ensemble accompanies her with the most intimate delicacy.
“But Beautiful” generally presented as a ballad is given a Latin treatment, and once again, Bruno’s unassuming style delivers the lyric with justice. The tune is given a lilting beauty as Eckroth floats atop the rhythm with buoyancy and stylistic grace. Equally, Shanker thrills with his pure tone and searing command.
“Cry Me A River,” has always been a tune that has a sullen command. Bruno conveys the slow heartache contained in each word. While “Somewhere,” conveys a feeling of hope. Taken from the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story that was made into a film in 1961. The music is composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It’s a befitting end to a well-traveled album where clearly the tunes were chosen for the fabric of connection and meaning for Bruno. Each player listens and interacts as a coalesced ensemble, their polish lends itself to an enjoyable listen with surprises throughout.