Julie Hardy: The Wish (2007)
With The Wish, composer and vocalist Julie Hardy has immediately established herself as an identifiable force of the next generation. By combining a very attractive voice with deep interpretations with a high degree of compositional and arranging skills, Hardy has created an album of grace and depth.
She is a member of drummer Kendrick Scott's musical collective and record label World Culture Music, which gives the artist total control over the creative process. Mike Moreno, whose release Between The Lines (2007) was very well received, is also a member of the collective.
Vocalists tend to get neglected since they are primarily interpreters of someone else's words, singing someone else's music, supported by the "real" musicians. Of course, the vocalists challenge this attitude as a deep, and even insulting, misconception. However, there is no getting around the fact that words make abstract music much more concrete and thus remove, for many, much of the mystery that is the musical experience.
Hardy seems to know this intuitively, because, while presenting a number of very beautiful songs that have many emotional layers, she includes her own compositions, and it is this side of her talent which sets her apart, and which was recognized by her winning the 2006 ASCAP Young Composer's award.
"The Wish Suite" is a triptych ("On The Verge," "Patience" and "Soaring") that will stand up to any amount of scrutiny. Using her voice as another instrument in the band, Hardy vocalizes airy syllables above and below Sam Sadisgursky's reeds, creating beautiful, shimmering harmonies. The music's structure has an organic feel that makes all that happens seem quite natural, while never falling into clichés. Hardy manages to weave the unexpected into the music's flow without shocking, and thus is able to maintain both mood and interest.
Taken together, "August," an original, and Wayne Shorter's "Song of the Iris," present Hardy's talent in microcosm. The former is pure composition with a strong dramatic arc which showcases Hardy's very pure voice and her compositional control. While paying homage to Shorter's influence on her style, she has added words to the dark and mysterious melody. In this case, the words help us understand both Shorter and Hardy without overwhelming the evocative arrangement.
The Wish has something for everyone. Hardy demonstrates both intelligence and emotional honesty when she sings a tune. As a composer and vocal instrumentalist, she communicates directly with beauty and grace.
Track Listing: We Kiss in a Shadow; On the Verge (The Wish Suite, Pt. 1); I Wish I Knew; August; I'm Looking Through You; Patience (The Wish Suite, Pt. 2); Song of the Iris; All or Nothing at All; A Lover's Call (Intro to Meaning of the Blues); Meaning of the Blues; Soaring (The Wish Suite, Pt. 3); 3000 Miles; I Fall in Love Too Easily.
Personnel: Julie Hardy: vocals, arrangements, compositions; Ben Monder: guitar (4, 9, 10, 13); Sam Sadigursky: clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax (1, 2, 4, 6, 11, 12); Kendrick Scott: drums; Jaleel Shaw: alto sax (5, 7, 8); Randy Ingram: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Kenneth Scott: drums.