Sarah Elizabeth Charles: Inner Dialogue
Sarah Elizabeth Charles on Voice
Jesse Elder on Piano, Keyboard, Rhodes
Burniss Earl Travis II on Acoustic/Electric Bass
John Davis on Drums
Christian Scott on Trumpet
Camila Mesa on Guitar
Jesse Fischer on Glockenspiel
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 31, 2015
This CD is an introduction to an eloquent, rising star, composer- vocalist, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, whose Inner Dialogue includes her own compositions, as well as tracks by (among others) her drummer, John Davis, and Jesse Fischer, who plays glockenspiel. Two Haitian traditional songs, sung in an authentically native tongue, are most inviting. Ms. Charles’ tonal strength is in its sublime warmth and sensual wistfulness. Her album musicians, listed above, support, without overwhelming, the lovely tunes. Ms. Charles’ scat skills appear here and there to add her voice as a featured instrument, creating, with these highly professional musicians, an orchestra-like surround sound. It should be noted that Christian Scott made an admirable contribution to track #5, Breathe, on trumpet.
#1 – Inner Intro – Composed by S.E. Charles. This opening track is sung a cappella, no instrumentalists, just Ms. Charles, in enchanting scat, with bell-like tones (sound technology is excellent), joined by her own voice in overlay, creating a one-woman chorus of her own harmonies. The piece is mesmerizing and freshly original, having international motifs and introspective meanings.
#5 – Yo-Yo – Haitian Traditional. As a lifelong student of languages, I am always happy to hear authentic accents on world music. Ms. Charles writes in her album notes about her travels and connections to Haiti. This traditional song is accompanied by piano, bass, and percussion with lilting melodies and a touch of muted horn.
#9 – Bells – Composed by S.E. Charles. With keyboard, vocals, bass, trumpet, and percussion combined, this track transports the listener to a faraway land. Ms. Charles’ composition is esoteric and ethereal. Once again she sings in harmonized choral refrains, with a quasi-soprano range. I like the solo bell-tone in the introduction, and the quiet development of the piece is translucent.
#13 – Haitian Sunrise – Composed by S.E. Charles and J. Fischer. Ms. Charles and Mr. Fischer composed this piece, with a soft, sentimental theme. The gestalt of each composition is of a rounded and blended musicality. I heard the glockenspiel, bass, guitar, keyboard, vocals, and percussion in this final song. Cover notes indicate that the co-composition is a tribute to an early childhood music education program in Haiti and the children who participate. Ms. Charles was touched by her first Haitian visit.