Adi Braun is no longer a singer of great promise, she is already a great artist – like her father Victor Braun, her younger brother Russell Braun – as fine a baritone, some would say, as his father. Her 2023 disc Night and Day – The Cole Porter Songbook proves this, and how versatile she is, not just with Berlin noir in the great tradition of Marlene Dietrich and latterly Ute Lemper, but also American standards, which have been done to death, but [as with this repertoire – familiar and interestingly rare – from the pen of Cole Porter] have been resurrected in the grand manner by Ms Braun.
As with her other discs – notably her stunning 2017disc Moderne Frau, a celebration of Kurt Weill [among others] – Ms Braun reveals herself to be an artist of the first order, broadening out from the Berlin Noir repertory for which she is best known. Her instrument is gorgeous; lustrous, precise, and feather-light. Her musicianship is fierce as she digs into the expression of each word, brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics, and gives every phrase grace.
For instance, Mr Porter may have written I’ve Got You Under My Skin for the film Born to Dance, but when Ms Braun breathes in and then exhales, with glorious control of the diaphragm the lyrics like gleaming vapour, you might easily be led to believe that Mr Porter had written the song with Ms Braun in mind, to sing it one hundred years later. Likewise, in her singing based firmly in legato – her liquid legato, to be precise – she seems to glide from the outside into Night and Day. And she does likewise with each of the eight other songs on this marvellous album.
Everywhere Ms Braun lays down a marker of sensitivity and technical adroitness. She delivers all the music the challenging harmonies and tricky intervals of which are raptly encompassed. Ms Braun always sounds as if singing is her most natural mode of expression, exhibiting a gleamingly blended tonal quality and an articulate engagement with the songs’ lyrics. All of this she does so in such a manner that one suspects that Mr Porter – indeed, even the great Alec Wilder – would both be right royally pleased.
Ms Braun is in great company here. Every performer is fully attuned to her vision and artistry. Special mention needs to be made of the inimitable Phil Dwyer who solos on tenor saxophone brilliantly on Just One of Those Things, as does trumpeter William Sperandei on Night and Day. One would be remiss if one did not acknowledge that pianist Don Breithaupt has much to do with the letter-perfect arrangements – using the horns brilliantly and employing the string accompaniments just where they should be so as to make for the luscious elegance of the production.
All of this, of course, makes for a disc to die for.
Music – 1: Love for Sale; 2: Just One of Those Things; 3: Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; 4: I’ve Got You Under My Skin; 5: Night and Day; 6: In The Still of the Night; 7: Get Out of Town; 8: I Concentrate on You; 9: Too Darn Hot; 10: What is This Thing Called Love.
Musicians – Adi Braun:vocals; Don Breithaupt:piano, arrangements and production; Pat Collins:bass; Mark Kelso:drums and percussion; Justin Abedin:guitar; Drew Jurecka:violin; Rebekah Wolkstein:violin; Shannon Knights:viola; Amahl Arulanandam:cello [5, 6]; Bryan Holt:cello [1 – 4, 9, 10]; Bill McBirnie:flute; Vern Dorge:alto saxophone; John Johnson:tenor saxophone [solo 9]; Phil Dwyer:tenor saxophone [solo 2]; William Sperandei:trumpet [1, 3, 9, soli 5, 6, 8]; Jason Logue:trumpet [2, 7, 10]; William Carn:trombone [1, 3, 9]; Doug Gibson:trombone [2, 7, 10].
Released – 2023
Label – Alma Records [ACD 91532]
Runtime – 36:21