Monday, March 19, 2012

Aga Zaran - Picking Up The Pieces (Cosmopolis, 2006)

Aga Zaryan (Vocals)

Nolan Shaheed (Trumpet)
Larry Koonse (Guitar)
Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz (Double-Bass)
Darryl Munyungo Jackson (Drums, Percussion)

Picking Up The Pieces (Cosmopolis, 2006)


While traveling in Poland a few years ago, I visited a music store in Krakow. There was a row of inviting headsets to hear some of the latest offerings of Polish artists. There was a CD with a cover picture of a woman of indeterminate age wearing a turban, so I gave it a shot. The first song was "Day Dream" - and I was floored. Like a potent cocktail mix of Carmen McRae and Shirley Horn with a dash of Susannah McCorkle, I had stumbled onto a rare gem. Could the whole album be this good? Yes it could. A little research shows the singer had won a passel of awards in Poland, and occasionally appeared in the US at small venues like Joe's Pub in NYC, and that she had changed her name from Agnieszka Skrzypek. She's been Jazz Vocalist of The Year in the European Jazz Forum Magazine's yearly Jazz Top readers' poll in 2007, 2008, and 2009. And yet no one in the states knows her. Whenever I play her music for anyone who loves music, they are immediately smitten and say "Where can I buy that?" Alas, her albums are not easy to come by, and it's the world's loss. She's just released her fifth album, this time on Blue Note - and I still can't find it. Amazon, get with the program. This woman may be the best living jazz vocalist and deserves a hearing.



Track listing: 1 Day Dream; 2 Throw It Away; 3 Picking Up the Pieces; 4 Woman's Work; 5 Answer Me, My Love; 6 The Man I Love; 7 Here's to Life; 8 It Might As Well Be Spring; 9 Sophisticated Lady; 10 Suzanne; 11 Tender As a Rose

By Joseph R. Lex Jr. MD

1 comment:

  1. Aga is fantastic. I have all of her albums, even the only one with Polish lyrics, because her singing, the arrangements and the songs are great. American Jazz guitarist Larry Koonse is on several of her albums especially the "live at Palladium" double cd. That's also on DVD which I just got yesterday and watched last night with joy. The songs on her last two albums are mostly poems by well-know poets set to music and they are fascinating and unusual compositions, compared to the standards on her first few albums.

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