When reviewing music it’s always a kick to discover something new, and an album coming out soon on the Blue Toucan label delivers a breath of fresh air in the person of Marsha Heydt. A talented saxophonist who is equally at home with the flute, hers might be an unfamiliar name to jazz lovers but her debut album, One Night, serves notice that she’s someone to watch.
Her musical abilities have been honed by years of study followed by a decade of performing professionally on the New York jazz scene. During that time, she’s worked with a number of established groups, including those of Bob Mintzer, Grover Washington, and Randy Brecker. She also made a recent appearance on David Letterman, sitting in with bandleader Paul Schaefer’s group.
Marsha uses all her instrumental skills on this album, which includes a variety of tunes and styles. It’s obvious that she wanted her first album to show her versatility in jazz and there’s a little bit of everything here, ranging from her arrangements of some standards to a few of her own compositions. She’s joined by a group of solid pros, including Todd Schwartz on trumpet and pianist Norman Pors.
Marsha must have felt strongly enough about her own songs to open the album with one, “Good Feelin’,” and it definitely gets us started with exactly that — a good feeling. It’s a bouncy song with a Latin beat, and her solid sax tones duel Schwartz’s trumpet to great effect.
She’s also given a Latin treatment to Mancini’s classic “Days Of Wine And Roses,” and this track gives us the opportunity to hear Marsha’s outstanding flute play. Her flute carries the melody too in “On Green Dolphin Street,” one of my favorite jazz standards, with Pors’ talented piano play taking a share of the spotlight.
She dips her toe into the contemporary jazz pool on a couple of tracks — first with another of her compositions, “One Night,” and then the more familiar “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” Both songs had a soft R&B feel, smooth as silk.
One interesting choice to include on the album was the “Spartacus Love Theme,” which is a haunting and familiar melody (if you’ve seen the movie recently). I’ve never heard it arranged and played by a jazz group but I must say that I liked it. Marsha took out her flute again for this one and carries the melody well, backed up nicely by Pors on piano. Very special.
One more little surprise occurs. It takes place on “I Want You To Know,” as guest vocalist Carla Cook takes a singing turn, and her voice fits in well with the mood of the album.
Overall, a very good debut for Marsha Heydt and her group, and hopefully there will be more to come from this talented lady.
1. Good Feelin’
2. On Green Dolphin Street
3. You Don’t Know What Love Is .
4. One Night
5. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
6. I Want You To Know
7. Days of Wine and Roses
8. Blue Too
9. Spartacus Love Theme
10. Well U Needn’t
11. Georgia On My Mind
12. I Want You To Know
(sample clips available here.)