Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 5, No. 1, 2006

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Phil Nixon
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle

Montreal Jazz Festival 2005







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: SAMINA
© Victor Diaz

As Samina makes her way to the stage on stilt-long, elegant legs, her lava-black hair let out over pale shoulders, in a simple white dress that shows some back and svelte-nervous arms, it’s not her look -- that could bring the Sphinx back to life -- that grabs our attention, but her delicate constitution that puts everyone in the audience on alert. We feel and fear something unscheduled or psychiatric might happen – as she adjusts the mike. Of course nothing ever does happen, other than a bravura performance that surpasses all expectations and converts everyone present into instant fans.

Samina’s wonderfully negotiated vulnerability is her edge: it both unnerves and wins over audiences. If some singers are hardly aware of their surroundings, Samina taps into the energy of hers and uses it to transcend her natural reticence. And when she finds her equipoise, there’s nothing finer to the ear than that signature, eucalyptus-cool voice that has become her star-way to more prestigious venues and significant peer recognition. Sharing generously the music she loves with her top-notch band, her earthy interpretations of the standards are anything but standard, and she’s equally at home in the ballad box as doing songs that pop out of champagne.

thSamina, which means precious and healthy in Arabic, hails from the near-hinterlands of Quebec, where short summers are sandwiched in between ice and sleet. She came to the city of lights (Montreal) to pursue a career in fashion, but soon found herself sold on jazz and a life in music.

Her solid debut album, How I Feel, was released on March 15, 2005. It includes “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” a compelling rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love,” and an unforgettable reading of “Embraceable You.”

Set against a busy guitar and caffeinated percussion line, Samina’s smokey voice and highly original but never quirky interpretation of Ira Gershwin’s lyrics introduce just enough nuance to make us wonder whether the ‘embraceable one’ is more phantom than fact – the idea of which becomes the song’s unlikely hook. With all the new crooners on the block (Rod Stewart and kind) taking their turn at turning this Gershwin gem into something lusterless and formulaic, Samina’s version wakes us up and renews our interest in it. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, you can bet her take is going to generate lots of ‘let’s try it her way’ magic.

Suffice to say, Samina is one camina I’ll be traveling down with great pleasure.

Listen to Samina perform "Embraceable You" HERE.

John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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