Marc Secara and his Berlin Jazz Orchestra | Songs of Berlin Review
by Icrom Bigrad
The Berlin Jazz Orchestra and Marc Secara have teamed up to release an album titled Songs of Berlin. The Berlin Jazz Orchestra was founded in 2000 by Secara, and this album is under the artistic direction of American trombone legend Jiggs Whigham. Secara and the Berlin Jazz Orchestra have performed in major concert halls of Germany with many repeated guest appearances abroad. In addition, Jack Cooper has been brought on board to produce and arrange for the Big Band. The resulting project is a notable collection of eleven songs.
David Bowie’s “Where Are We Now” pairs Secara’s strong vocal presence with the full and balanced ensemble playing with counter lines and layering for support. Secara’s mood and dynamism play an equal role with the big band, making this arrangement a stirring interpretation with a dynamic jazz presence. Jonas Schoen matches Secara’s lead with his impassioned saxophone solo.
The emotional “Great Day For Freedom” builds from cabaret sounds and straight-ahead jazz as Secara sings with laser focus and complete control of the meaning of the lyrics. Cooper’s arrangement creates with instrumental colors and backing vocals by Sarah Kaiser and Elisabeth Schmidt. Nico Lohmann lends his imagination on the saxophone to the song, generating a strong listening experience.
Songs of Berlin is a beautiful documentation of Secara’s versatility as a vocalist with commanding control of texture, tone, and emotion. The big band performs each selection with inspiring and truly melodious playing. Each song is given an arrangement that brings out new aspects of the tune by Cooper’s interpretations and arranging skills. Generally,Songs of Berlin is worth hearing by any jazz lover that enjoys big band music with a strong fronting vocalist.