Songwriter Louis Rosen and actress Capathia Jenkins may have formed what superficially looks like a surprising partnership, but the pair has drawn attention with their recordings, South Side Stories, a song-cycle by Rosen, and One Ounce of Truth, a mix of jazz, blues, soul, pop and more based on the words of the famed African-American, writer and poet, Nikki Giovanni. They have a new release on Di-Tone, The Ache of Possibility. It is comprised of mostly Rosen originals along with several more pieces where he has set the words of Nikki Giovanni to music.
The tone is set with How You Gonna Save ‘Em?, with Nikki Giovanni’s words “How you gonna save them,If they Can’t learn how to pray/ Give “em a song i guess/ To chase those blues away,” as Capathia belts out the words set against a bluesy backing with solid horn support. The backing core is Rob Moose on electric guitar, Dave Phillips on electric bass, Gary Seligson drums with Louis playing acoustic guitar, with others adding musical color such as Andrew Sterman on sax and Glenn Drewes on trumpet. On the title track they provide a jazzy setting. Rosen’s I Want to Live to Love You, is a marvelous folk-tinged love song with nice interaction between Rosen’s acoustic guitar and Moose’s electric playing as Capathia achingly delivers the lyric of yearning. The title track opens with Phillips on acoustic bass as Capathia sings a world gone wrong as she pleads for us to make it better also seeing the ache of possibility and lift our voices to overcome the aches of disappointment with horns, marimba and violin providing a jazzy flavor here.
Louis takes a slightly gruff, almost talking, vocal with Moose joining for an acoustic guitar duet with rhythm , The Middle Class (Used to Be) Blues, reciting a litany of things that have gone down as rent’s not paid, his shoes need soles, and his IRA has gone RIP. Moose turns to violin behind Capathia for Winter Daze, a dreaming song about floating through Winter with hard times with a nice sax break also. Nikki Giovanni’s poem on conservation Love Is In Short Supply, is given a lively New Orleans R&B flavor while the setting for Giovanni’s Choices, evokes Van Morrison as Capathia delivers the message “if i can’t do/ what i wan’t to do/ then my job is to not/ do what i don’t want/ to do,” with Drewes adding muted trumpet and Mark Sherman adding a crystalline vibraphone solo. Rosen is himself a capable lyricist as on his vocal duet with Capathia, I Need You. “I need you/ like a seed needs the rain/ Love I need you/ Like pleasure needs pain…” as Sterman plays clarinet here and Moose adds violin.
Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen make some marvelous music together. Her stage-experienced voice can be powerful yet she also expressed the aches and vulnerabilities we all feel so convincingly. Rosen has set the wonderful uplifting poetry of Nikki Giovanni as well as his own words in varied and lively musical settings that are fused with soulful blues feeling and a jazz sensibility. The Ache of Possibility is available along with their earlier CDsCDs at http://www.capathiajenkins.com/CJLRosen.html, and from cdbaby and amazon and downloadable at itunes, amazon, cdbaby and other sources.
The review copy was supplied by a publicist for the recording. This review originally appeared in the May 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 325).