Laila Biali: vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes, arrangements
Kurt Elling: guest vocals (4)
Emilie-Claire Barlow: guest vocals (5)
Caity Gyorgy: guest vocals (7)
Anat Cohen: clarinet (3)
Sam Yahel: Hammond B3 organ (2)
Grégoire Maret: harmonica (6)
Michael Davidson: vibraphone (7)
Kelly Jefferson: tenor sax (1, 2, 4, 7, 10), soprano sax (5, 8)
George Koller: acoustic bass
Larnell Lewis: drums (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10)
Ben Wittman: drums (3, 6), percussion (1, 2, 5-7)
Maninho Costa: percussion (3)
Highly acclaimed musician Laila Biali is a force on the jazz scene in Canada and beyond. The JUNO Award-winner’s distinctive voice is typically on dazzling display in her original music. Now, after ten years recording her own material, Biali turns her attention to the Great American Songbook with Your Requests, her ninth album as bandleader. While showcasing her own impressive skill set, Biali gathers longtime collaborators for the outing: drummers Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy) and Ben Wittman along with bassist George Koller and tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson.
The shift back to more classic jazz material was inspired by Biali’s delight in fulfilling the song requests of her fans. When she asked her social media followers what tunes they’d like to hear her cover, more than 150 songs were submitted. Your Requests debuts the first collection of Biali’s dynamic and personal arrangements in response to her listeners, a “musical love letter.”
Right from the first track, a smart and energetic take on Dixon & Henderson’s Bye Bye Blackbird, Biali’s arranging ethos and piano chops are in full force while Jefferson and Lewis trade blistering solos over Koller’s anchoring bass ostinato. Biali also teams up with several vocalists for enthralling duets. JUNO Award-winner Emilie-Claire Barlow features on an exhilarating take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things. Scat sensation and recent JUNO winner Caity Gyorgy charms on a lilting delivery of Pennies from Heaven, while Kurt Elling lends his bold and brilliant voice to My Funny Valentine.
Biali also reinterprets the oft-playedBut Not For Me as a samba that showcases clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen, Brazilian percussionist Maninho Costa, and Wittmanon drums. The final guest appearance belongs to harmonica master Grégoire Maret, featured on a lush delivery of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars). For the final track, Biali takes a surprising turn with a fierce instrumental rendition of Jerome Kern’s All the Things You Are. The searing, cleverly reharmonized arrangement closes out the record, reminding listeners that if one wades into familiar waters, they best have something new to say.