We in the Muruch household have been long-time fans of the Sara Bareilles song “Gravity” and her acapella Sonos duet. So I was excited about this new cover of the song arranged as a mashup with “Run to You” by Pentatonix. The impeccable vocal of Natalie Weiss makes this one of my favorite performances of the year. Arranger Jonathan Reid Gealt has assembled some of Boadway’s best voices to assist and the blend is glorious. The group consists of Weiss, Gealt, Zak Resnik, James Bilodeau, Jason Gotay and Laura Osnes – I hope this is the first of many offerings from them.
Billy Childs’ Map to the Treasure (Reimagining Laura Nyro) is an interesting and mostly solid jazz tribute to singer-songwriter Laura Nyro. Though the dazzling tracks that bookend the album far outshadow the rest.
Renee Fleming’s voice is a soaring, agile instrument on the opener, “New York Tendaberry.” Fleming may be an opera diva by trade, but her supernaturally gorgeous voice takes jazz and pop to other realms. I only wish she’d contributed more songs for this tribute.
Becca Stevens’ angelic soprano is juxtaposed nicely with a moody arrangement on “The Confession.”
“Stoned Soul Picnic” is my personal favorite Nyro track (thanks to its inclusion on an old pal’s mixtape), so I much prefer Nyro’s original over the Ledisi cover here.
Esperanza Spalding, Ricki Lee Jones and Shawn Colvin guest on other tracks. I love the piano on “To a Child,” but Dianne Reeves’ vocal arrangement is a bit too light and smooth for me. Overall the tribute is a bit too much of a soft jazz jam for my taste, but will probably appeal more to more diehard Childs and/or Nyro fans.
The final cover of “And When I Die” by Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas is as mesmeric as Renee Fleming’s opener. Those two songs need to be heard.