Shiri Zorn & George Muscatello, Into Another Land Review
by Jeff Becker
Vocalist Shiri Zorn and guitarist George Muscatello share their project called Into Another Land. The two have had an exciting collaboration based on spontaneity and performance experience for over a decade. The duet is joined by Brazilian percussionist Mauricio Zottarelli. The album was produced by acclaimed jazz singer Tierney Sutton and mixed and mastered by award-winning studio engineer David Darlington; the album features eight songs, including two original compositions. In addition, the album has a theme of the album’s theme of the fleeting and elusive nature of life and love.
Opening with a stirring original by Muscatello and Zorn called “Witch Touch.” The trio develops a modern jazz sound that is sophisticated and rich in textures and moods. Zorn’s versatility as a vocalist is impressive as she plays the role of both the singer of lyrics and non-lyric melodies, acting as an instrument. Zottarelli and Muscatello are locked in from the start and playoff each others rhythmic ideas for the duration of the track. The trio is easy to hear as each part is beautifully recorded. The trio excels at balancing structure with exciting patterns, creating a dynamic space that encourages collective conversation between the three gifted musicians.
We all know and love standards, but hearing this trio’s interpretation of “Willow Weep for Me” shows their unquestionable creative approach to the challenges of creating a fresh sound in such well-known territory. Muscatello’s guitar part is rhythmic while still clearly outlining the harmonic structure underlying Zorn’s beautiful voice singing the melody. Her control and expression are lovely. After the theme statement, the trio launches into an attractive spoken section where Zorn speaks in English and Hebrew. While Zorn provides flowing guide tones, Muscatello performs a stirring guitar solo, all while Zottarelli colors and provides a steady pulse. This is a highly original take on this classic, especially by a vocal-fronted trio.
Into Another Land is a creative project that covers new territory and possibilities of a jazz vocal and guitar duet with the support of tasteful percussion. This is my first hearing of Shiri Zorn, George Muscatello, and Mauricio Zottarelli, and I am impressed. Especially with the chemistry between Zorn and Muscatello. Zorn is a very talented and beautifully toned vocalist. Into Another Land builds unique architectures that are creative and unexpected and thrives on group interactions.