Title: Ghosts Appearing through the Sound: Kosi Sings Abbey
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: August 6, 2015
Based in New York City, jazz and R&B singer Kosi (a.k.a. Akosua Gyebi) tackles the music of Abbey Lincoln on her third full-length release, Ghosts Appearing Through the Sound. An artist who makes her way across the country predominantly performing at house shows, Kosi has assembled a competent rhythm section to record the complex and difficult music of Lincoln.
There are some very nice interpretations on this album, but Kosi has a tendency to over-sing and her band makes strange choices at times, such as the seemingly missing hi-hat during the conventional medium-tempo swing on Lincoln and John Coltrane’s composition “Africa.” One of the challenges with interpreting Lincoln’s songbook is the attention to detail that comprised an essential part of Lincoln’s interpretations of her own songs. Some of this detail is missing in Kosi’s approach, which seems more designed to showcase her chops than serve the songs themselves. The difficulty of effectively performing this repertoire is likely one reason there aren’t many tribute albums dedicated to Lincoln’s music. The songs are carefully constructed and interpreting them requires the proverbial scalpel rather than the hatchet. It is impossible to duplicate Lincoln’s delivery and quite difficult to set up a compelling original interpretation of much of this material.
Overall, Ghosts Appearing Through the Sound is somewhat underwhelming, and this project was likely a bit beyond this band’s interpretive reach. This release certainly reflects effort on the part of its creators, but unfortunately falls short of being especially compelling, musically or emotionally.
Listen on Spotify here
Reviewed by Matthew Alley