by: Constance Tucker
Jocelyn Medina is an accomplished and pedigreed vocalist who has studied opera at Stanford University, earned a Bachelor’s degree in professional music from Berklee College of Music and a Masters degree in Vocal Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music. With those qualifications it not surprising that her latest endeavor entitled We Are Water is a tour de force.
What makes an outstanding vocal release is equal parts vocal prowess coupled with and equally talented ensemble. So, many times with vocal jazz CDs unfortunately the ensemble steps all over the vocalist overfilling the space with their voicings and ideas, and not allowing the vocalist to stretch out and create a story-line upon an uncluttered canvas, which is a complete mystery to me as to why. Jazz is a conversation, and the conversation does not work well unless each person speaking gives the other person the space and room to speak. However, when this level of respect occurs, magic begins. This is the case with Medina’s ensemble, the conversation is compelling and the ensemble is tasteful, while Medina conveys the lyrical and musical storyline, but when it’s time to solo, each musician adds to the fabric; binding and uplifting the entire project to its true purpose of bringing joy and unselfishly designed pleasure to the listener.
Brazilian flavoring is a recurring spice throughout the CD, cuts such as; “Cosmic,” and “Time and Place” are fine examples of Latin excursions. The title track “We Are Water” is a poignant ballad that lyrically reflects the message of a better understanding of humanity. “Natural” sports a clever lyric message that leaves the listener pondering more.
Medina offers the jazz listener a musical journey that takes the foundation of Latin and Jazz idioms and successfully redefines the experience with thought provoking lyrics and vocal abilities far beyond the norm, Medina uses her voice as an instrument, storyteller, and invites the listener to delve into the corners of their mind with lyrics that reflect life and human conditions. Medina is a masterful lyricist, composer and vocalist. Certainly, all of her training was a strong foundation, but to Medina’s credit – she has taken that foundation and built a skyscraper, shining in the NY sun, with We Are Water.