Meeting My Shadow
Young saxophonist, vocalist, and songwriter is a graduate of world-renowned Berklee College and later toured with Joe Louis Walker. She recorded a self-produced album, participated at the Blues Foundation's 2016 International Blues Challenge and has been playing at festivals and clubs. Now she has signed with Ruf Records who has issued her newest release. She is backed on this by TK Jackson on drums, Daniel McKee on bass and Laura Chavez on guitar with many tracks having the legendary Charlie Hodges of the Hi Rhythm Section on keyboards. She has eight originals and three covers here as well.
Collier has an attractive voice and impresses as a vocalist over a variety of material including the opening "Poisoned the Well," one of the more notable originals, along with her ode to James Brown styled funk, "Dig a Little Deeper." She covers U2's B.B. King collaboration, "When Love Comes To Town," with a fervent vocal with Josh Roberts' slide guitar soloing while she takes the performance to a close with some robust saxophone. Her cover of the O.V. Wright deep soul classic "You Gonna Make Me Cry," is sweetened up in her treatment making it more a lament than Wright's gut-wrenching original.
"Whisky and Women" is a rocking blues shuffle about folk complaining about whisky and women while she notes she wants to live without complaining. The tempo might be a bit slower, and her vocal could have been tempered a tad, but both Laura Chavez and she are outstanding. "Meet Me Where I'm At" has a New Orleans-flavored feel with some nice interplay by her with trumpeter Marc Franklin. There is a spirited cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Around My Head, I Hear Music In The Air," and if her vocal lacks the weight of Tharpe, it is still enjoyable and Chavez again tosses in a crisply, spirited guitar solo followed by Collier's short solo. "Devil's on the Downside" is an impressively sung original with Charles Hodges taking us to church on organ and a standout lyric about life's temptations sung wonderfully with Collier providing a marvelous arrangement as well for the horns to frame her vocal.
There is plenty to like about Vanessa Collier on "Meeting My Shadow." She is multi-talented as a singer, songwriter, saxophonist and arranger who also co-produced this most engaging set of performances. She is certainly establishing herself on the blues (and more general music circles) and this recording will further that process.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the May-June 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 372). Here Vanessa Collier is performing "When Love Comes To Town."