Vox One is an award-winning a cappella jazz quintet that combines elements of blues, funk, gospel, and folk into their own brand of vocal music, which is "most adventurous and distinctive." - San Francisco Examiner. The group, formed in 1988, has since developed a unique style considered to be the cutting edge of a cappella. "This jazz quintet puts all kinds of throat sounds to such funky good use that listeners break into applause and - better - feel like dancing." - Boston Magazine.
Members: Tom Baskett, Jodi Jenkins, Yumiko Matsuoka, Paul Pampinella, Paul Stiller
Vox One: Chameleon
This may well be the last album of jazz virtuosos, Vox One." These musicians created the most polished jazz (on the rock and blues edge of the spectrum) by anyone so far. Meticulous arrangements sung by superb performers make you forget any prior arrangement that was the benchmark to your mind's ear for how a particular song was supposed to sound. From the opening wail of the vocal electric guitar and definitive drum beat on "Chameleon" to the complex chord structures on "Round Midnight," you will be lost in a panoply of possibilities for the human voice. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Harold Arlen, Herbie Hancock, Theolonius Monk and more are treated with nothing short of the genius they deserve. The title cut from one of our best selling CD's ever, "Chameleon," is a cool and refreshing cocktail of vocal jazz. Having emerged from the highly regarded Berklee School of Music, their sound reflects the talent and training that enables them to articulate sophisticated musical concepts with ease. This amazingly rich sonic tapestry is heard in the bent notes of the "guitar" and the slur of the "bass" on this track-amazing!
Vox One: Out There
In announcing the CARA winners for 1996, the Contemporary A Cappella Newsletter used the following statement to announce the Album Of The Year. "In a year of extremely strong nominees for best album, Vox One's little-publicized "Out There" takes first place because it has everything. Exceptional songwriting, glowing arrangements, magnificent solo performances and top rate production all combine to make this the sleeper album of 1995. Somehow Vox One manages to combine elements of pop, rock, blues and jazz without compromising the exacting demands of any of the styles. The resulting blend is infectious and definitive, proving "Out There" to be one of the best contemporary albums ever." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Vox One: Pure Imagination
What immediately strikes one upon listening to Vox One's new "Pure Imagination" CD is how good they are not in a flashy, notice we are brilliant singers kind of way, but in a deeply felt, technically beyond question, born to sing way that shows us all of us lesser talents how its done. After seven years, one of a cappella's most accomplished (and recognized) vocal jazz groups returns to the CD player with a satisfying collection of originals, covers and improvs. Yes, Vox One has matured and is exploring new styles, including Indian ragas and world music tinged vocal jams. For those loyal listeners who loved "Chameleon," "Out There" and "Say You Love Me" and have been waiting for an encore, there are the standards such as "Pure Imagination" (written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley), and the traditional "Aura Lee," but there are plenty of new songs composed by the group, as well as the six improvised tracks that offer plenty of room for the the five members (Yumiko Matsuoka, Paul Pampinella, Paul Stiller, Jodi Jenkins Ainsworth and Tom Baskett) to stake out new vocal territory. These Berklee College of Music faculty members exemplify what it is to harmonize, blend and intonate with sublime perfection, and we thank them!
Vox One: Say You Love Me
This Japanese release features seven songs not before released in the U.S.. For fans of Vox One, we are already preaching to the choir, but for the uninitiated, this contemporary jazz quintet has all of the technique of the Real Group, with a compelling edge of intensity and emotion. Therefore, a traditional such as "Shenandoah," using brilliant dynamics, phrasing and an admirable combination of tension and release, is transcendent, whereas classic pop - Carol King's "It's Too Late" - is given a heartbreaking harmonic complexity and richness. The arpeggiated chord accompaniment in the verse, so simple, yet effective, shows why a talented arranger can elevate the ordinary to greatness. When Vox One swings into the standard, "Autumn Leaves," they prove that they do no less than weave straw into gold.
Vox One: Vox One
As you might suspect from the self-titling, this is the first recording released in what has come to be recognized as the must-have trilogy of albums by Vox One. Lets go though it. "Edelweiss" is such a difficult harmonization that it became a signature performance tune for the group. "My Romance" almost sounds like a pop/jazz standard only better. "Why Blue" was written by member Yumiko Matsuoka and features a bass and percussive underpinning to a complex wordless scat that's nothing short of great. "The Water Is Wide" is just plain beautiful. "Respect"... well, move over Aretha (sacrilege!). There isn't room in this review! Suffice it to say that the three originals are a portent of things to come, the covers original.