SHIPPING INCLUDED Ship Nov. 16-20.
Alone with Bees is a ten song jazz CD, written, arrangenged, produced and performed by Connie Lansberg with seven original songs and three beautiful standards wrapped in a lovely booklet with ten short stories to go with the theme of each song, lyrics and original art by Italian artist Francesca Baerald. The quartet includes Connie's long-term collaborator jazz great, pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, Ben Hanlon-Double Bass and Peter Hodges- Drums.
A quietly expressive jazz singer with a beautiful voice, Connie Lansberg (who is based in Melbourne, Australia) is also a songwriter, a lyricist, and a published author. On her latest recording, Alone With Bees, she is joined by a top-notch trio comprised of pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, bassist Ben Hanlon, and drummer Peter Hodges.
The group performs seven of Ms. Lansberg’s originals plus a song apiece by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Thelonious Monk. Throughout the set, the singer hits high notes with ease, is particularly effective on ballads, and always does justice to the lyrics that she interprets. One never has any difficulty understanding the words that she sings and her delivery is consistently inviting.
None of Lanberg’s composition are ordinary in their storytelling. The program begins with “Alone with Bees” is about the importance of making peace with the past until it becomes something sweet instead of a source of pain. Hanlon’s bowed bass sets an ominous riff that returns several times during the song; his solo is also notable. “Deep End of Love” has the singer wondering if anyone whose had their heart broken has ever been brave enough to jump into new love without the baggage. Fitzgibbon takes two excellent piano solos along the way, displaying the inspiration of McCoy Tyner and early Herbie Hancock.
On the ballad “Free,” which is partly taken out-of-tempo, Connie Lansberg is touching and quietly longing while the suitably haunting “Ghost in The Night” (about the unwanted dreams of a failed relationship) has excellent bass and piano solos. The latter concludes memorably with the singer repeating the piece’s last line “This ghost should just take me.” Sondheim’s “I Remember Sky” is a wistful ballad about remembering how life used to be written for an episode of The Twilight Zone. The trio is particularly complementary to the singer, who is heard at her best. Her lyrics to “I Used to Be Your Girl,” about the damage obsession can do to a persons’ sanity, are especially well-written and the piano playing is soulful.
Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight” begins and ends with the rhythm section emulating an ominously pounding clock which perfectly frames the vocal. “The Silence” (about how badly we can misinterpret other people) an exquisite revival of “Some Other Time” (with Fitzgibbon’s tender piano), and the swinging “Mother’s Little Helper” (relating sometimes humorous details about a hopeless life) conclude the memorable release.
Connie Lansberg excels throughout Alone With Bees, a recommended release that makes one want to see her and her trio perform live.
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian
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