CD Review: Maria Jacobs “Here Comes Winter”

Posted: February 6, 2015 in Music
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Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Maria Jacobs has one of the most beautiful voices in the Greater Cleveland music scene. It is easy to tell why she has been able to work with many different people in the area including the Cleveland Orchestra and the MLK Celebration Chorus for the Martin Luther King Jr. Maria Jacobs’ clear, melodic vocal delivery is just perfect for orchestral and jazz settings. Because of that, it’s easy to see why the music of choice for Maria Jacobs is jazz.
Having already created several albums of music that have been widely well-received by the Greater Cleveland area, Maria Jacobs has just returned with her latest offering; the new album is entitled Here Comes Winter. The 2014 release is split between Maria Jacobs’ original compositions and jazzy arrangements of songs that were made famous by other singers.
To bring Here Comes Winter to life, Maria Jacobs teamed up with several well-known Cleveland musicians to help create the songs. Guitarist Bob Fraser, keyboardist Cliff Habian, bassist Bob Curry, standup bassist Brian Wildman and keyboardist/organ player David Strieter all contributed to the music that is contained on the album.
Here Comes Winter from Maria Jacobs begins with the album’s title track. “Here Comes Winter” features Jacobs as both singer and keyboardist, plus Bob Fraser on guitar and standup bassist Brian Wildman. The resulting trio feeling that fills the track creates a solid jazz sound in the music as Jacobs sings about the changing of the seasons to something a lot colder. While the lyrics of the song speak of that approaching coldness, the vocals from Jacobs contain a nice amount of warmth. The song ends up having a nice balance between the cold and the warmth.
While the track of “Here Comes Winter” ultimately became the title track of the new release from Maria Jacobs because of the underlying theme of winter that is also included on the later track of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” it is the song “Till Forever Comes” that is truly the standout track on the album. “Till Forever Comes” features Jacobs, guitarist Bob Fraser, electric bassist Bob Curry and also includes string patches from Cliff Habian. The tune contains a nice Smooth Jazz feel to the music and the inclusion of the strings from Habian gives the track a nice orchestral feel. Maria Jacobs’ vocals delivery on the track feels jazzy but will also remind the listener of something that might have been produced back in the 1970s. The resulting musical feel of “Till Forever Comes” is very timeless and instantly comes across as a newly-minted jazz standard.
“Art of Saying Goodbye,” another Maria Jacobs original on her new release, also makes use of that same orchestral feeling that is featured on “Till Forever Comes”. And just like that song, “Art of Saying Goodbye” contains almost the same musical lineup with the exception of standup bassist Brian Wildman who replaces electric bassist Bob Curry. With the subject matter of saying goodbye being very universal, the track feels like something that would appear in a theatrical production on Broadway. Because of that theatrical feeling, you could easily imagine someone like Barbra Streisand or another well-known singer of standards incorporating the song into their musical repertoire.  
As Here Comes Winter is split between Maria Jacobs originals and arrangements of songs from other people, there are plenty of moments within those cover songs that are worth mentioning. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The classic song of “Time After Time” that was written by Sammy Cahn gets a very simple treatment as Maria Jacobs is joined by only one other musician. The single guitar on the track and Jacobs’ vocals create a track with a very timeless feel to go along with that timeless composition.
Another highlight that occurs on the album is the arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “Case of You”. Like “Time After Time,” the arrangement of the music on this track is rather simple with Bob Fraser once again backing Maria Jacobs up on guitar. The multiple-guitar sound creates a very nice texture to the music and also gives the song more body than “Time After Time”. Cliff Habian’s strings also help add a nice orchestral feel to the piece. The guitar and string arrangement gives new life to Joni Mitchell’s song while still keeping some of the folk flavor that Mitchell is known for.
The aforementioned song of “River” from Joni Mitchell once again finds Maria Jacobs and Bob Fraser teamed up to create yet another intimate track. The Christmas-inspired song begins with a simple guitar and vocalization arrangement of “Silent Night” before transitioning into Mitchell’s lyrics about the holiday season and longing to be where she can experience a White Christmas. The jazz/folk combination in the music helps to create one of the most beautiful moments on the new release from Maria Jacobs.
Maria Jacobs returns with a solid album with Here Comes Winter. If you’re a fan of jazz music or just want to listen to something a little more relaxing from time to time, this album is something that is definitely worth checking out.
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