Elena Maque, Feel Again Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Elena Maque is a St. Petersburg, Russia-born vocalist, composer, and saxophonist. She has spent years perfecting her skills and wowing audiences throughout Russia, Europe, and the United States. Her ability to combine jazz with funk and pop has been a magnet for followers worldwide. Upon graduating from Mussorgsky College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia, she toured Russia and Europe with a jazz Big Band led by Gennady Golshtein, “Saxophones of St. Petersburg.” This foundation gave her a solid focal point of style that illuminates her writing and informs her playing. After moving to the U.S., Maque collaborated with various musicians and bands throughout Seattle and formed the Elena Maque Quartet. In 2017, Maque and D’Vonne Lewis started SoulCanvas, – an art project that featured and promoted talented artists in the Northwest. In 2019, Maque began collaborating and recording her debut album with Los Angeles-based legendary keyboardist and producer Scott Kinsey. Feel Again is filled with six well-crafted originals and three innovative interpretations of well-known classics from the jazz, Brazilian and pop idioms.
“Hey Friend,” a Maque original, opens the set and highlights Maque’s warm singing. The feel is groove-based straight-eight with elements of funk, jazz, and fusion. Saxophonist Alexey Nikolaev makes a guest appearance on the track too. Gary Novak’s drumming and Hadrien Feraud’s bass playing propel the feel as Kinsey adds colors and supports Maque singing. Leonardo Amuedo adds tasteful guitar fills and funky guitar patterns. Maque’s lyrics are easy to hear and relate to as her emotive voice takes us through the form. Kinsey’s solo is elegant and is followed by Nikolaev’s energetic improvisation. This is a strong opening selection and one that will win your attention with Maque’s endearing vocal style and the fantastic ensemble.
Maque brings in elements of pop for the arrangement of “And I Love Her.” With a relaxed feel and sensuality, Maque sings this melody with style. Amuedo’s guitar tone and playing adds just the right amount of country flavor to the setting to keep things interesting. For the final time through the form, Amuedo adds warm distortion to his tone and proceeds to perform tasteful fills around Maque’s angelic vocals. A classy arrangement for an elegant lady and robust band.
Maque and Kinsey make a fine team and bring us an album of eloquence that embodies the collective spirit of jazz today. Feel Again offers the listener an introspective to exuberant texture that is irresistible in inviting you to spend some time enjoying the wonderful music it has to offer.