Scat verses and sensitive vocalizing are executed intermittently on Here’s to Life from jazz duo AS IS, comprised of Alan Schulman on guitar and Stacey Schulman on lead vocals. The pair’s repertoire moves through a gamut of jazz-inspired expressions interlacing swing, bossa nova, and torchlight blues. Each number is palatable to the ears, from Schulman’s improvised scat on songs like “In the Name of Love” and “A Night in Tunisia” to her lingering strides on tracks such as “Here’s to Life” and “Willow Weep for Me.”
Schulman’s vocals caress the slow-simmering grooves of “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” producing a sublime tone through the track. Gregoire Maret’s harmonica paddles leisurely across “It Ain’t Necessarily Too Late for Love,” as Schulman’s vocals amble with a smooth sultry swagger. The track is a mash-up integrating George and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” with Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love” and Carole King’s “It’s Too Late Baby,” tailoring the melodies to course into each other seamlessly.
“When October Goes” is a torchlight melody laden in bossa nova-tinged atmospherics with the breathy strings circling around the silky inflections of Schulman’s vocals. The recording switches to a funky sizzle piping “Street Life,” which demonstrates Schulman’s versatility to adjust to contemporary forms of music. The pair shuffles with a languid gait along “Save Your Love for Me,” as the saxophone soars majestically to bring out the crests in the melody. The orchestral silhouettes dusted across “Here’s to Life” cloak Schulman’s vocals in candlelight raptures, which contrasts with the bubbly, salsa tremors driving “Overjoyed.”
This jazz duo presents a broad spectrum of musical expressions, rooted in breezy guitar riffs and the refined vocalese of Stacey Schulman. The tracks are palatable, bridging together jazz traditions with modern forms of musical phrasing, showing a preference for being lean and smooth. The songs surge a brightness that is veritably contagious.
Stacey Schulman – vocals, Alan Schulman – guitar, Marcus Baylor – drums, Rashaan Carter – bass, Matt Geraghty – bass, Kevin Powe, Jr. – bass, Gregoire Maret – harmonica, David Binney – saxophone, Dawn Johnson – viola, Elise Cuffy – cello, Alejandro Lucini – percussion, Navin Girishankar – tabla, Dr. Chelsea Green – violins, Kendall Isidore – violins, Dianna Said – violins, Christie Dashiell – backing vocals, James McKinney – backing vocals, Carl Walker – backing vocals