The Manhattan Transfer Co-founder Erin Dickins -‘Vignettes’ CD review

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Erin Dickins Vinettes Cover

Erin Dickins is a New York based jazz singer and session vocalist. She was a founding member of The Manhattan Transfer; after five years singing ensemble music with the group, she emerged as one of the most in demand studio singers in New York involved in many different musical projects.  Dickins has toured and recorded with many notable artists including Leonard Cohen, Bette Midler, James Taylor, The Talking Heads, James Brown, Jaco Pastorius, to name but a few.

Erin’s newest release ‘Vignettes’ is a collection of one-on-one collaborations featuring an array of talented musicians and an eclectic assortment of styles and genres. Clearly not one to be boxed in, Erin showcases her artistry and passion through her wide- ranging musical choices.  Among her collaborators are David Friedman (vibes), Elliott Randall (Steely Dan guitar), John Lissauer (Leonard Cohen Producer), Rob Mounsey (piano), A.J. Croce (Jim’s son – piano) and many others.

The album opens with a punchy vocal harmony number ‘Erin Girl For Rhythm//Jumping With Symphony Sid’.  This is a fun merging of two riff- based tunes with Erin delivering a swingy, sultry vocal. This track features fellow vocalist Paul Jost as Erin’s partner in crime; lending his hand on drums, vocal bass and harmonica.

Bob Dylan’s beguiling ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ features Danny Levin who provides the piano, violin, cello and keyboards. Erin’s vocal delivery of Dylan’s emotive lyric lulls us into her intimate world, and we can’t help but sit entranced by her offerings of love.

Never one to leave us comfy for too long, Erin follows with the heavily bebop infused ‘Jackie’,  an Annie Ross number based on a Wardell solo accompanied by Bruce Hamada on the bass. This one likes to keep us on our toes.

And now we cross the continent onto O Grande Amor. The beautiful Jobim song, featuring David Friedman on vibes features the ever multi-faceted Erin now dazzling the listener with her Portuguese delivery.

Leonard Cohen’s ‘Came So Far For Beauty’ features the talents of John Lissauer on piano, sax and keyboards. Erin gives a bluesy rendition of this lesser known Cohen classic.

The collaborator on the next track ‘Which way Steinway’ is composer, pianist, bassist and guitarist, A.J. Croce (son of Jim and Ingrid); a feel good medium upswing number that never fails to delight.

And now time to cross the Atlantic, ‘A Bicyclette’ showcases Erin’s daring to face the ultimate challenge: singing in French.  Yet another string to her bow, Erin’s delivery does not disappoint.

Steely Dan guitarist Elliott Randall along with Steve Donnelly (acc. guitar); ‘Level’ Neville Malcolm (bass); Andy Treacey (drums) are featured on this Sam Cooke classic ‘Wonderful World’.  Erin’s sultrier rendition brings out an altogether more ‘Joni Mitchell-esque quality’ – we get a sense of reminiscing, of another time, long lost.

Black Trombone transports us this time to a big band setting with the Zaremba Jazz Fellowship featuring trombone solos by Brian Woodbury. Leader Drew Zaremba plays piano and clarinet; Erin sings once again in French, which coupled with the fullness of the big band sound leads the listener back in time to a 1930s speakeasy atmosphere.

And last but not least, we are left to finish our musical journey with the poignantWe’ll Be Together Again’, a beautiful beguiling rendition of the ballad masterfully accompanied by Steff Scaggiari.

The listener is left wondering ‘what next’? One thing is for sure- Erin is going to keep us guessing….

To buy Erin’s newest release ‘Vignettes’  or her other Music visit:  Erin Dickins website

Writer: Paola Vera

Last modified: July 15, 2018