Coniece Washington, Shades of Shirley Horn

by Constance Tucker

Shades of Shirley HornVocalist Coniece Washington is not new to performance as a former veteran of the US Army, her chops were honed performing in locales where she was stationed in Europe and the states. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Washington developed her love for music at an early age, singing at her grandmother’s church.  A member of the renowned Washington Performing Arts Society Men & Women of the Gospel Choir. Washington can be seen performing at various venues in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, including Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, Twins Jazz, The Carlyle Club, The Other Barn, Mr. Henry’s, The Georgetown Ritz Carlton, The Henley Park Hotel, Cafe Agape and Westminster Presbyterian Church Friday Night Jazz. To say she has been in the trenches would be an accurate totality of her resume.

Washington’s long-awaited follow up album, Shades of Shirley Horn comes honestly and a long-time devotee of Horn she was an inspiration to this career veteran and a place of solace while abroad.  Washington explains, “the first time I heard Shirley Horn sing, I feel in love with her groove and elegance. Due to my military service I never had the opportunity to attend one of her shows, but I always carry her sound in my heart.”

A pensive “Get Out of Town,” celebrates the deep swing that Washington has cornered in her soul.  Supported by a highly capable ensemble of Vince Evans: piano; Wes Biles: bass; JC Jefferson: drums; Kevin Kojo Prince: percussion; Thad Wilson: trumpet; Carl Carrington: flute; David B. Cole: guitar and Seth Washington: poet on “Here’s To Life”.  While, “The Island,” celebrates the exotic dynamism of Washington’s sensual sonorities.

The jazz-blues inflected “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying,” is a soulful infused rendition that focuses on an unaffected slow burn by Washington, spiced by the muted trumpet of Thad Wilson, who accents with well-placed commentary.  A modulation midway point gives Washington a spring board to reach into her upper register that highlights a feathery soulfulness that exudes proactive sensuality.

The highlight of the album “I Just Found Out About Love,” is a swinging ditty the Washington exhibits a sunny disposition, you can almost hear the smile of joy in her delivery. This tune deeply swings, and Washington is on top of her game.  Vince Evans spins a melodic solo that is effective and states the melody with a bluesy inflection. Once again Wilson is inspired, his solo is also melodic and rests in a deeply felt swing.  Washington has put together a worthy tribute to Horn, but also a wonderful celebration of her own unique talents, a great calling card for an emerging artist.

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