Press Play: Soulful jazz from Del Sol

Del Sol "Two Days in May"

By Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal

POSTED: 03/19/15, 4:15 PM PDT

Del Sol plays beautiful music beautifully. That’s the Marin jazz ensemble’s motto, and it’s true. But beautiful can sometimes be boring. Luckily for jazz lovers, these debut CDs, “Two Days in May” and “Two More Days in May,” are anything but.

As the album titles suggest, vocalist Charity Goodin of Novato, a former rock band front woman turned scintillating jazz singer; keyboardist Doug Morton, another Novato resident who also plays trumpet in the Santa Rosa Symphony; bassist Rob Fordyce of San Rafael and drummer Brad McKeague of Fairfax recorded the twin CDs over two days at Jimmy Hobson’s Marin West Recording Studios in San Anselmo.

Only consummate musicians could record 23 Latin jazz and bossa nova-flavored songs — including tunes by Dizzy Gillespie (“A Night in Tunisia”), Antonio Carlos Jobim (“One Note Samba,” “Wave”), Chick Corea (“Spain”) and Bud Powell (“Parisian Thoroughfare”) — in such a short amount of time. What’s even more extraordinary is that the tracks are consistently creative, inventive and often surprising.

On “Midnight Sun,” for example, a hip jazz standard by Lionel Hampton, Sonny Burke and Johnny Mercer that was made famous by Ella Fitzgerald in 1957, Goodin’s crystalline vocal rises above a languid, almost abstract arrangement tagged by Morton’s lovely piano solo.

The group takes “Somewhere,” the great “West Side Story” ballad by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and erases any semblance of Barbra Streisand’s hit with an up tempo, energetic rendition driven by the masterful rhythm section of Fordyce and McKeague.

Formed in 2012, the band has recently added Marin jazz guitarist Jean-Michel Hure. They have been making the rounds of jazz-friendly venues like the no name bar and Seahorse in Sausalito, and the Fenix and Panama Hotel in San Rafael. The word is that they’re even better live than on record, and, after listening to these two tuneful CDs, that’s saying something.