Jazz aficionados in Baltimore, both budding and experienced, would do well to visit the website of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance from time to time, where a calendar of shows in the city and county is regularly updated. Also on the BJA site is their archive of monthly newsletters, each rife with Baltimore jazz goings-on, CD reviews, and reviews of live shows.
Mark Osteen, a professor of English at Loyola University, was one of the founding members of the BJA. From time to time, I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked by him to write some live show reviews. (I wrote about native Baltimorean Antonio Hart in the Alliance’s May 2010 newsletter.) Most recently, for the December newsletter, I wrote about Naima Shamborguer, a jazz vocalist from Detroit whose latest album, ‘Round Midnight, was described by Mark Styker of the Detroit Free Press as “a magical collection of ballads.”
Shamborguer performed at the Eubie Blake Center on Howard Street earlier this month. If you’re so musically inclined, I urge you to pick up a copy of her latest album, in addition to reading the show review in the next BJA newsletter. Until that newsletter publishes–at which point I’ll link to the article in full–I’ve provided a short excerpt from my show review below:
Being a relative novice to the jazz world, I couldn’t identify many of the songs sung, though the selection was a mix of covers and Shamborguer originals played in a variety of styles: some Latin, some Samba, some straight-ahead swing, slowed down just enough so as to not overpower Shamborguer’s voice, as well as a few ballads sprinkled in. However, not knowing the tunes was a small handicap, as the real entertainment was being wrapped up in Shamborguer’s stage presence.
She possesses a warm and womanly voice, which holds a tinge of raspiness and is able to arrest listeners the instant it comes over the speakers. While sometimes pure singers can appear nervous or fidgety when the lyrics are done or during music breaks between verses and choruses, Shamborguer owned the stage, moving her body and bobbing her head in time with the rhythm section. A rendition of Phyllis Molinary’s “Here’s to Life” was particularly powerful, as Shamborguer was accompanied only by Willis’ piano strokes; her crooning, dark vocals carried the ballad along effortlessly, bringing to the song a feeling of hopeful melancholy that gave, quite literally, wonderful voice to Molinary’s lyrics.