The movement of time and tide remain unhampered by artistic intentions, yet music has a way of marking or defining a moment and fixing itself to specific points on existence's steady line of progress. This seventh album from veteran vocalist Laurie Antonioli emphasizes that fact while also showcasing her way with words, wide-ranging interests, and deep interpretive insights.
Celebrating several milestones in 2018 - her 60th birthday, two decades of sobriety, the birth of a second grandchild - Antonioli took time to reflect in the studio, exploring music that speaks to her passion for jazz's expansive nature while also acknowledging roots and influences previously highlighted on American Dreams (Intrinsic, 2010) and Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light: The Music of Joni Mitchell (Origin, 2014). With virtually the same band from those projects returning for this album, she's able to settle into a zone that's both comfortable and collaborative in nature.
Opening on "Longing for You," Antonioli immediately shows herself to be the total package. Her lyrics to this retitled Russell Ferrante composition reflect the sense of yearning embedded in the music, her phrasing is completely at peace with the hypnotic flow below, and her wordless vocals blend to perfection with the surroundings. From there, not surprisingly, Antonioli investigates the American spirit while also exploring her own psyche. Her take on Sheryl Crow's "Riverwide," with a tabla-graced introduction and some strong solo work from saxophonist Sheldon Brown and guitarist Dave MacNab, is shot through with passion and purpose. A trip through "Layla" - guitarist Nguyên Lê's "Bee," with Antonioli's own lyrics - sounds attractively diaphanous. And the rocking "Highway," co-written with German saxophonist Johannes Enders, encapsulates the eternal urge for the road.
Extending on her earlier tribute to Joni Mitchell, Antonioli includes a few nods to that most celebrated of figures. First there's the artful marriage of "Harry's House," from The Hissing of Summer Lawns (Asylum, 1975), and "The Arrangement," from Ladies of the Canyon (Reprise/Warner Bros., 1970). That melding of two different worlds proves to be a stroke of genius on Antonioli's part, as each number suggests sympathies to the other. And then the presence of "Love," originally appearing on Wild Things Run Fast (Geffen, 1982), shines a light on a slice of biblically-aligned beauty. Among Antonioli's many gifts are her ability to uncover overlooked gems and her skill in binding seemingly dissimilar material(s). Both are proudly on display during The Constant Passage of Time.