by Constance Tucker
Kaylé Brecher though evidently knowledgeable about vocal jazz traditions is far from your “traditional” jazz singer, her versatility of range, note choices and articulation of the melody is adventurous and runs comparison to groundbreaking vocalists such as Rene Marie and Helen Merrill.
Brecher has a vocal style hard to categorize, so if you are expecting Diana Krall, look elsewhere, as she is a musician’s vocalist – able to interpret arrangements with an instrument like quality and tone, her voice truly is a part of the instrumentation of each tune. Brecher got her start in the Greenwich Village club scene, this lends itself to the reason why Brecher is so uniquely her own stylist and does not parrot or sound like other vocalists. Brecher is also a formidable arranger, which is showcased on Spirals and Lines in full blossom. Her choice of instrumentation is just as unique as the vocalist herself.
The title track “Spirals and Lines” a Brecher original immediately kicks off the proceedings showcasing Brecher using her voice as a horn, along with a full brass entourage weaving lines of delight with Brecher to signify immediately that the listener is in for a treat of the unusual. It is not very often you hear a vocalist accompanied by a trombone and augmented with brass hits. Brecher truly is an instrumentalist disguised as a vocalist.
“High Flying Bird’ has a funky 60’s vibe, it could almost be a TV series intro, which is meant to be a compliment. A Billy Edd Wheeler original paints a picture of missed opportunity through the fabric of life story. Brecher, again offers the listener a chance to hear her horn like vocal support along with infectious scatting that transcends the cut to another level of the jazz experience.
“When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” originally was cast as a celebratory war song, not celebrating war, but the joy of loved ones coming home and the end of turbulent times. Brecher captures the almost gospel vibe of this classic traditional. Her voice opens with command and conviction, truly transporting the listener to a pew in a gospel church of folks singing with voices lifted high.
Another classic transport in time is Brecher’s rendition of the depression era tune “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” which gives the listener an opportunity to hear a historical account from the words of man (the character) who lived the experience. Brecher has done such an outstanding job of capturing the listener and conveying the most important job of a vocalist the true story and intent of the lyric.
The overall journey I encountered while listening to Brecher’s, Sprials and Lines was a journey through human spirit and the human condition, via her song choices and lyrics – what made it an enjoyable journey was her unadorned, honest vocal transference that gave the release an organic and candid delivery. But more than just a vocal release, this is a journey into the heart of Brecher, which is filled with a convicted message, a pinch of yesteryear and atmosphere of American greatness. This message is exemplified in all its glory in “The House I Live In.” To me, Spirals and Lines is a moment in time worth savoring, definitely not a background CD you put on while diners are conversing, this is a CD you will need to listen to with intent to get the true message – absolutely not your typical vocal jazz CD and Brecher is not your pretty little jazz singer nicely knit into a sweet package, she has bite, message and grit, and thank goodness, cause we certainly have enough of that. Brecher stands on her own merit.