Doug Boynton, Girl
This is very good stuff. Ms. Underwood is playing on a couple of the tracks, as well as singing - and writing half the 'em, too. The daughter of jazz musicians, the publicity handout calls Ms. Underwood a "seasoned newcomer." This is a surprising disc; and while I'll admit a preference for the standards, the haunting original, "Say My Name," complete with a Baritone Ukulele (she's playing that, too) will make it to the weekly 'pod mix. The disc opens with a Mel Tormé song - "Born To Be Blue," that blew me away - and the bluesy, wistful take on "There Will Never Be Another You" is one I'll remember whenever I hear that song, now. Ms. Underwood's voice is dreamy and hypnotic. Ms. Underwood is joined by a group of talented pros on this album - recorded over a period of about two and a half years. Chad Wagner's piano on "How Deep Is The Ocean" is outstanding - in that cool, west-coast kind of way. John Gross' sax on the original "World Peace Blues" makes the track.
I found her presentation alarmingly compelling, in much the way I sometimes find the work of Lisa Loeb (waif-pop, singer/songwriter) hypnotically inescapable. She instills a kind of nihilistic grace in the standards (Born/Deep/Don't Know/Invitation/Never") she's chosen.
Jazz in is in her blood and genes, and if jazz is your music of choice, then here is the album for you. Belinda Underwood's musical ability is beyond doubt; having taken lessons in violin and harp, she eventually settled on the upright bass as her favored musical companion. Again, her genes won out -- she was unlikely to play pop on that instrument. Apart from her genetic jazz makeup, Belinda has studied with the best in the genre and this, her debut album, shows that the combination has worked very well.With more than a dozen tracks, many from her own pen, she displays a talent far beyond her years. Likewise, her innovative interpretation of more familiar works marks her out as a talent to be watched -- and heard. Among my personal favourites here is "Trees," an original track. Of the other works on the CD, "There Will Never Be Another You" stands out among a myriad of great songs and interpretations. This may be a debut but it sounds much more accomplished. One waits in wonder for her next offering.
Christian Carey, Copper
Singer Belinda Underwood has an appealing voice: Darkly hued, but with considerable flexibility. She marshals it in a considerably poised fashion on Uncurling
Don Heckman, L.A. Times
"Underwood Uncurling"(Cosmik Muse Records)Underwood, who is a bassist and singer, has a fragile, youthful-sounding voice. But the emotional thrust of her vocals and the lyrical imagery of her original songs are the product of a seasoned creative mind. Portland, Ore.-based, she is accompanied by some of that city's fine players, including bassist David Friesen and guitarist Dan Balmer. Her laid-back versions of standards such as "How Deep Is the Ocean," "You Don't Know What Love Is" and "There Will Never Be Another You" are intriguing examples of what a new generation of musical artists can bring to this classic material.
Karl Stober, Jazz Review
Synchronize sultry overtones with an innate sense of jazz, accompanied with a multi level talent, and you have a moment well spent with Belinda Underwood. “Uncurling” is a collection of the many dimensions intertwined within this educated siren. Seductive? Yes! and it works so well with her becoming, infectious nature to whomever is exposed. Original in lyric and concept, Underwood's "Uncurling" releases a soulful energetic plethora of crisp compositions. She allows the "push and players" a moment of real jazz laid down the way it ought to be, with intimate style! No comparison from this scribe, Ms. Underwood is Ms. Underwood alone, unique in all aspects of her stage presence.
Carmel DeSota, Liliths Child
Magazine focused on Women in Music
Bass savvy, coupled with modern jazz song writing. Belinda Underwood’s debut CD, Underwood Uncurling, is a journey in today’s jazz harmony with yesterday’s rustic
charms. Underwood invokes eclectically thought provoking lyrics in her storytelling approach to composition. Her soft falsetto and strong chest voice is reminiscent
of the late Billie Holiday.
All Music Guide
The debut album from Belinda Underwood, a Portland-based bassist-cum-vocalist, is a surprisingly excellent start, especially for what's essentially an independent release.
Underwood exudes authenticity here, moving between upright bass and vocals (and a stretch on the baritone ukulele for good measure). She's slinky and sultry without diving
into overblown Eartha Kitt-esque aesthetics.
Dan McClenaghan, All About
"Underwood is a talented lady. The mix of standards and originals here, played with understated but tasteful accompaniment, makes for an engaging listen."
David Dupont, One Final
"Underwood has a lilting, sunny soprano, reminiscent of Marlene Ver Planck."
Bill Donaldson, Jazz
"Portland Oregon singer/bassist Belinda Underwood's first CD as a leader is one that sounds as if it were the result of a mature talent. Like Patricia Barber or other singer/songwriters with minds of their own, Belinda Underwood's effectiveness derives equally from her musical sense that sustains a rhythm in the words she sings or even in the rests between notes."
George W. Carroll, Ejazznews
"She's sultry, assertive, compelling.............And, nice looking too! Oregon based Jazz singer Belinda Underwood comes to us multi-honed.......A double threat..........She can burn hard on her acoustic bass, while she delivers her rendition of The American Songbook. Belinda possesses a voice that renders song with a mastery of inflection.......All backed up by her bold, innovative, noncompromising,& tight jazz group. This is one hell of an argument for a junket to Portland, Oregon to imbibe the animated & pro-active artistic offerings a great jazz town proffers."!
George Fuller, KRML Jazz and Blues
"Belinda Underwood is multitalented & jazz knowledgeable. A win-win plus for the future of America's art, Jazz. Belinda is on her way."
Kyle O’Brien, Jazz Society of Oregon
“Underwood Uncurling…this auspicious debut album shows a truly mature artist on her way up the jazz ladder, and it shouldn’t take long for Underwood to find
her way to the top….On just the unique strength of her voice alone she is a talent, but the fact that she also plays a fine upright bass and baritone ukulele
as well shows that she is more than just a pretty voice…”
Marty Hughley, The
A collection split evenly between well-chosen jazz standards and Underwood's own compositions, "Underwood Uncurling" is softly lyrical and intimate, sophisticated yet unassuming, contemplative but never ponderous. It's a very promising introduction to a young talent.
Carmel DeSoto, The Jazz
'Her ability to convey raw emotions and lifelike lyrics further draw you into her unique vibe. Her phrasing and delivery are emotionally real and many times much more believable than many of the commercially successful vocalist on the charts."
J. Scott Fugate, General Manager,
Program & Music Director, Eclectic 89.1 WBCX
Belinda Underwood sings and swings with vulnerability, passion and versatility. We'll be giving this a lot of air play on Eclectic 89.1 WBCX covering NE Atlanta and North Georgia!
D.J. Fazio, The Jazz Nation
If you like it straight-ahead, then you'll enjoy Underwood Uncurling. Jazz singer Belinda Underwood has an innate lyrical sense with intonation that is second to none.
George Fendel, Jazzscene
"The sultry voiced bassist/singer/composer, Belinda Underwood mixes in some standards and several of her own tunes. She is most effective on evergreens such as "Born to be Blue", How Deep is the Ocean, You Don't know what love is and Invitation. Her own compositions provided a contemporary touch and in some cases, a nice balance to the more familiar fare."
Tom Surowicz - KBEM "Monday Nights with Tom Surowicz" - This appeared in the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, MN, Feb 4, 2005
Belinda Underwood is a promising jazz singer from Portland, OR, in the classic 1950s-60s mold of Helen Merrill and Chris Connor, but with some key differences. First off, Underwood, who's making her Midwest debut, also plays acoustic bass and composes songs with a pronounced hippie streak. Her treatment of hallowed standards is even finer, making her debut CD, "Underwood Uncurling, a sultry treat for open-minded Great American Songbook fans.
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