By Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine
Robin Aleman continues to impress on this follow-up to her debut disc (10/07, p. 223), with a more idiosyncratically varied repertoire which includes two Leslie Bricusse tunes (“Smile” and “In Your Eyes”) from “Dr. Doolittle,” an all but forgotten song (“Next Time”) from Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s 1955 “Pipe Dream” (a “flop” by their standards since it ran on Broadway for less than a year), and an obscure 1938 Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin song (“I Have Eyes”). Ms. Aleman sings Maxwell Anderson’s “Never Was You” (music by Kurt Weill) with only Brian Adler accompanying on his drum kit. Not altogether successful, but daring enough to be noted here. Bob Sabin’s bass supports her vocal at the opening of her lovely reading of “Way You Look” and his arco enhances Chick Corea’s “Crystal,” but can’t save her from Neville Potter’s preposterous lyrics. Ms. Aleman swings “Steppin’ Out” and “Nothing At All” convincingly, phrasing with intelligence and instinctive Jazz ease. Her soprano voice has texture and light, does not, as I mistakenly said in the previous review, reach down into the contralto range. She does some wordless vocalizing on the brief “Bossa” before singing “Triste” in what I take to be authentic Portuguese. On “Some Other Time,” David Epstein is her lone support, as she sings the Leonard Bernstein song (lyrics by Comden and Green) with ardent tenderness. It’s a gem of a track and a fitting finale to a fine CD. The insert erroneously credits the song to Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne who did just happen to write a song with that identical title, but is not the one Robin sings here.
©Cadence Magazine 2011
By John Curley, Goldmine Magazine
NYC's Robin Aleman shines at hometown gig
Backed by an excellent three-piece band, the New York City-based singer Robin Aleman performed songs from both of her albums as well as other classic tunes at her terrific show on Saturday, January 15th at Miles' Café on East 52nd Street in Manhattan. Kicking off the first of her two sets with a spirited version of Irving Berlin's "Steppin' Out With My Baby," Aleman and her band immediately impressed the audience. Aleman was backed by David Epstein on piano, Bob Sabin on bass, and Brian Adler on drums. The members of the band showed their considerable talents during the instrumental breaks that were featured in many of the songs. Aleman did most of the arrangements and co-arranged several of the songs with Epstein.
The show had an enjoyable, loose, easy-going feel to it. Aleman is an engaging performer with a very pleasant stage manner. She works very well with the band. They have been performing together for a while, and it shows.
Aleman also deserves some praise for being fully immersed in the performance of the songs. An attractive brunette, Aleman's got a very expressive face and uses it well to convey the emotions—ranging from joy to melancholy—in the songs.
The performance consisted of a 50-minute first set and a second set of 35 minutes. There was an intermission of about 20 minutes between the sets. Among the songs that Aleman performed were Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance," Miles Davis' "Four," Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence," and Duke Ellington's "Do Nothin' 'Till You Hear From Me."
Aleman's second album, In Your Eyes, was released in September of last year and is available from Amazon.com. Her 2005 debut album, which is titled Tonight, can be purchased on iTunes. She performs in the New York City area, and her live dates can be found in theShows section of her Web site.
The set list for the performance (with the songs' composers listed) was as follows:
Steppin' Out With My Baby – Irving Berlin
Foi A Noite (It Was Night) – Antonio Carlos Jobim and Newton F. Mondonca; Gene Lees, English Lyric
Waltz For Debby – Bill Evans
When I Look In Your Eyes – Leslie Bricusse
My Romance – Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Four – Miles Davis; Roger Hendricks, lyric
I Get Along Without You Very Well – Hoagy Carmichael
I Fall In Love Too Easily – Jules Styne/Sammy Cahn
The Next Time It Happens – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
I’m Beginning To See The Light – Don George, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, and Harry James
All Through The Night – Cole Porter/Johnny Mercer and Arthur Schwartz
All Or Nothing At All – Arthur Altman, Jack Lawrence (lyric)
Crystal Silence – Chick Corea and Neville Potter
Let’s Fall In Love – Harold Arlen, Ted Koehl (lyric)
Something In Your Smile – Leslie Bricusse
The Way You Look Tonight – Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields (lyric)
Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear From Me – Duke Ellington, Bob Russell (lyric)
By Wilbert Sostre, Jazz Times
Review: Robin Aleman new album In your eyes starts with a bang with the cool version of Irving Berlin Steppin out with my baby. Most of the song is just drums and Robin voice with impressive piano and drums solos by David Epstein and Brian Adler.
In almost all the tracks Robin is accompanied by a trio of just piano, bass and drums. This format allows the listener to appreciate Robin beautiful tone and unique phrasing. Listen to the wonderful version of All or nothing at all or the bass and voice arrangement of the The way you look tonight.
Robin voice and feeling truly shines in the slow ballads like Something in your smile, When I look in your eyes and Some other time. But she is a versatile singer, showing her latin heritage in the salsa rhythms of I have eyes with a nice montuno on piano, singing perfectly in Portuguese in the Blue bossa/ Triste medley, or the kind of Irish phrasing on It never was you and Corea Crystal Silence.
Robin cleverly does a medley of two songs, I fall in love too easily and The next time it happens with similar lyrics about being careful when falling in love. In your eyes also includes the waltz like rhythms of Lover and a funk version of Ellington Do nothing till you hear from me.
Tracks: Steppin out with my baby, Something in your smile, The way you look tonight, I fall in love too easily/The next time it happens, All or nothing at all, I have eyes, Lover, Crystal Silence, It never was you, Come on strong, Blue bossa/Triste, When I look in your eyes, Do nothing till you hear from me, Some other time
In Your Eyes
By Alan Bargebuhr, Cadence Magazine
Robin Aleman owns an impressively strong contralto vocal instrument, but uses dynamics prudently and phrases with what appears to be an instinctive, speech inflected fluidity. She’s willing to treat “Tonight” as an interior monologue, rather than a barrio aria, which may well be a first for this Sondheim standard. This time out, Maria (as played by Robin) is not so much singing the Cliff Notes to “Romeo & Juliet” for the benefit of the entire West Side as she is simply rehearsing her own role. Pete Smith plays some lovely guitar lines in support.
Ms. A’s duets with bassist, Bob Sabin, on “Azure” and pianist, David Epstein, on “Teach” and “Heart” are beautifully shaded, with her interpretation of the Rodgers & Hart standard (“Heart”) no less than definitive. Drummer, Peter Retzlaff surprises with a martial cadence to open “Let’s Fall,” which Robin continues through the verse. As the track unfolds, he makes excellent use of his drum kit. There’s more of the Smith guitar on the infrequently sung Jobim gem, “Night,” which features Robin singing the original Newton Mendonica lyrics in Portuguese, and the Gene Lees lyrics in (what else?) English. On “Child,” she doesn’t so much scat as use her voice “instrumentally,” and her “Midnight” reading is so (dare I apply such a word to a piece of Monk’s) exquisite that I’m quite prepared to forgive her for omitting the necessary apostrophe from the title, said omission implying that midnight is a geometrical concept rather than a critical time of night.
David Epstein proves to be, as Robin Aleman acknowledges in her “thank you” notes, a “fantastic piano player.” I suspect the arrangements are his, and his extended statement on “Sweet Way” is beautifully un-Brubeckian. But the rhythm team is consistently fine, and one of this session’s greatest pleasures is the all-for-one and one-for-all affinity of all five players.
So, what else? Well, perhaps, a little surprise—a small stroke of genius, with Ms. A. interpolating some lyrics from the obscure, but identically titled, Arthur Schwartz/Johnny Mercer tune (from the 1942 Bogart movie of identical title) into her version of Cole Porter’s “All Through The Night.” But, has Robin Aleman achieved perfection with her debut disc? Hardly. There are a few isolated spots where her intonation is suspect, as on “Prince,” where even her phrasing seems somewhat compromised. Nonetheless, this is a very impressive first outing.
©Cadence Magazine 2007
By Curtis Davenport, Jazz Improv
Too often today, we will hear from singers who, in order to curry favor with a wider audience, will skirt the edges of jazz or speak of their “jazz influences”, while singing pop, hip-hop or anything other than jazz. So I am always encouraged to hear from a young vocalist who is truly endeavoring to become a jazz singer; trying to maintain artistic integrity and take a few chances, in a “take the money and run” vocal world.
On Tonight, we are introduced to Robin Aleman; a New York native, Fordham University graduate and student of one of the brightest lights among jazz singers to come along in the last ten years, Dena DeRose. Ms. Aleman sings with a pleasant, upbeat voice that, in tone, is reminiscent of ‘90s smooth jazz icon, Basia and also at times, of one of today’s more popular singers, Norah Jones. But make no mistake about it, Tonight is a jazz singer’s album, from the song selection, which consists of many familiar standards, along with a few rarely heard gems, to her skilled and inventive quartet of sidemen, all of whom are seasoned and respected members of today’s New York jazz scene.
As mentioned before, Ms. Aleman is willing to take a few chances, in order to breathe new life into some of jazz’s “sacred vocal cows” and as happens anytime you take chances, there are a few missteps. However there are enough things that work that you become excited about hearing more in the future, as this artist develops. Many of the more stimulating moments occur when the already spare instrumentation is stripped down even further, such as on Duke Ellington’s “Azure”, where she is accompanied only by bassist Bob Sabin. Sabin’s work throughout this disc is rock solid and he truly is a talent on the bass that is deserving of wider recognition. On “Azure”, he creates a dreamy featherbed on which Robin’s vocal lightly rests. It is a track that you appreciate more with each hearing. On Sammy Cahn’s “Teach Me Tonight”, which has become a virtual cliché as an overwrought ballad, Ms. Aleman uses her age to her advantage, performing the song as a mid-tempo stroll with pianist David Epstein. In this case, the “student” seems to look forward to her “lessons” with youthful anticipation. She also performs Iola Brubeck’s rarely heard lyric on her husband Dave’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”, a welcome treat. Mr. Epstein’s inventive, swinging piano solo made me want to applaud at the end, as if I were hearing it in a club.
As good as these cuts are, the standout track however, is an obscure Antonio Carlos Jobim gem, “Foi A Noite” (“It Was Night”). This song and Ms. Aleman’s voice were made for each other and the musicians are right there with her, creating a mood that is gentle and smooth, yet completely compelling. “It Was Night” opens with the solo acoustic guitar of British guitarist Pete Smith, setting a tone suggestive of Jon Lucien’s “Lady Love”. Then Robin enters, singing the original Portuguese lyric as the quartet sets a lilting Bossa Nova beat (listen for drummer Peter Retzlaff’s brilliant brushwork). Smith then returns with a guitar solo that would make two of his influences, Joe Pass and Martin Taylor, quite proud. By the time the song concludes, with Ms. Aleman singing Gene Lee’s English lyric, you will not want the experience to end. “Foi A Noite” will have you hitting the “repeat track” button on your CD player, numerous times.
Robin Aleman’s Tonight is a promising debut from a talented jazz singer, whom we expect to hear many great things from in the coming years.
Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene
A fine singer based in New York, Robin Aleman is not afraid to take chances but makes it all sound natural and effortless. Her sweet voice is classically trained and one could imagine her singing on Broadway (she does a fine job on "Tonight") but she has the spirit of a jazz musician. She takes "Tea For Two" in 7/4 time and "Someday My Prince Will Come" in 5/4, duets with pianist David Epstein (who surprisingly switches to stride) on "Teach Me Tonight," and revives Duke Ellington's "Azure," Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" and "Nobody's Heart." Assisted by Epstein, guitarist Pete Smith, bassist Bob Sabin and drummer Peter Retzlaff, she is frequently touching on the ballads (such as "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning") but confident on medium-tempo material too. Robin Aleman is a name to remember.
By Jim McElvoy, JazzReview.com
July 8, 2005
Robin Aleman's debut CD, Tonight, will be one of those recordings that once you hear it, you will find yourself haunted by it for sometime to come. Robin's voice has a ethereal quality to it. Her voice draws you in and surrounds you with an emotional blanket of sound that has a wide range of depth and texture to it. "All Through the Night," the opening track, is a up-tempo number that not only demonstrates the range of vocal ability Robin has, but shows off the tight trio of musicians that back her on this recording, David Epstein on piano, Bob Sabin on bass and Peter Retzlaff on drums. Along with guest guitarist Pete Smith who is featured on two of the 14 tracks.
"Azure" is a moody number that conjures up a picture of a smoky jazz club in the East Village of New York or on the left bank in Paris. Bob Sabin on bass is a perfect counter to Robin's heartfelt, lovelorn vocals and the two ease their way through the song, sounding as if they are two parts of the same heart and soul.
"Let's Fall In Love" has a twist to it in the beginning with what sounds like a military parade introduction, played by Peter Retzlaff, but then switches gears into a light and airy number that captivates and reminds you of how you felt the first time you fell in love. "A Child is Born" is a companion piece that seems to bookend "Let's Fall In Love" very nicely, and it also features the elegant playing of Bob Sabin , David Epstein and Mr Retzlaff. These three back each song with a tightly woven style of playing that supports Aleman's voice without overpowering her.
"It Was Night (Foi A Noite)" has the unmistakable mark of Antonio Carlos Jobim and features Pete Smith on guitar and switches between languages without losing any of its warm appeal and smooth Latin influenced sound. Tonight boasts a very impressive lineup of songwriters with the likes of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk to name just a few. In addition to the jazz greats there are also those who are not usually known for writing jazz numbers such as Sammy Cahn , Richard Rogers and Leonard Bernstein. "Tonight" from Bernstein's immortal West Side Story, is given a fresh new interpretation that leads you to think that Aleman would be as much at home on the Broadway stage as in a jazz club. She certainly has the vocal ability for either.
"In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning," "Some Day My Prince Will Come," "When The Lights Are Low" and "Nobody's Heart" round out the recording and each is a glimpse into the heart and soul of a bright and gifted artist who gives each song her own unique stamp and feeling that lingers long after the music stops. This is a disk that deserves to be listened to again and again.