Of the 10 flowing aqueous songs on A Sea of Voices, half are originals by double bassist Jamie Ousley. His complete set of water-inspired songs reflect his “love of nature and all things beautiful.…” The professor of jazz bass at Miami’s Florida International University put this project together to benefit Sunshine State Interfaith Power and Light, an organization whose environmental mission is to mobilize faith communities in Florida to care for creation.
Ousley primarily teams with pianist Joe Davidian and percussionist Austin McMahon to present penetrating and inventive arrangements with transcendent underpinnings. Three others contribute on the project: Nanami Morikawa (vocals on “Shenandoah”), Gabriel Saientz (piano on “Alfonsina y el Mar”) and Carlomagno Araya (percussion on “Swallowed in the Sea” and “Rocky Top”). Yes, the latter is the same song as the bluegrass classic, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and popularized by The Osborne Brothers. However, Ousley’s grooving jazz rendition sounds nothing like bluegrass.
Morikawa also offers some Japanese lyrics for “Shenandoah,” before Ousley’s bowed instrumental break transports us listeners to an enchanting musical riverine habitat full of subtle and soothing resonance.
A careful listen shows sophisticated voicings and sensitive interpretations throughout this album. One has to appreciate the versatility of these musicians, the diversity of their repertoire, as well as their desire to care for our planet.