Me'Na - Living my Life (2006)

Me'Na
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Ohio native Me'na's debut CD, Living My Life, is a solid independent debut.  Listening to the CD, one is easily transported to a non-smokey jazz club somewhere on the lower Eastside of Manhattan for one of those big city jazz moments.  Fortunately for Me'na, the CD overall is better than the lead-in track, which begins with a somewhat sappy sounding minute-long soliloquy from her co-producer, Nathaniel Rhodes.

Standout moments on the CD are provided by ‘Home to Me," "My Funny Valentine," and "Stoopid."  Me'na has a Jill Scott moment on the title cut, which is really one of the golden songs on this project.  Me'na nails the popular Ira Gershwin written jazz standard ‘Summertime', which really harkens back to Broadway's Porgy and Bess and even gives you the feeling you have a playbill in your hands.

Ohio native Me'na's debut CD, Living My Life, is a solid independent debut.  Listening to the CD, one is easily transported to a non-smokey jazz club somewhere on the lower Eastside of Manhattan for one of those big city jazz moments.  Fortunately for Me'na, the CD overall is better than the lead-in track, which begins with a somewhat sappy sounding minute-long soliloquy from her co-producer, Nathaniel Rhodes.

Standout moments on the CD are provided by ‘Home to Me," "My Funny Valentine," and "Stoopid."  Me'na has a Jill Scott moment on the title cut, which is really one of the golden songs on this project.  Me'na nails the popular Ira Gershwin written jazz standard ‘Summertime', which really harkens back to Broadway's Porgy and Bess and even gives you the feeling you have a playbill in your hands.

While Living My Life is richly and impeccably steeped in a straight ahead jazz tradition, it is sometimes handicapped by dated sounding spoken word pieces on songs such as ‘I of the Storm,' the aforementioned title track, and ‘Later.'  In other instances, Living My Life is hampered by misfired delivery, as is the case on songs such as the Neil Young composition "Down by The River," which begins strong, but begins to sonically fall apart in by the middle, and the final song of the CD, ‘Time,' which does nothing to bolster some of the lackluster moments that precede it.

Overall, Living my Life is a CD that's not made for everyone, which is a good thing.  It's certainly not made for the middle of the road jazz listener.  Rather it is either, on one hand, for the  casual jazz listener looking for some of that good ole fashion romance found in straight ahead inspired jazz, or the purist who believes that the 70's fusion era, and the subsequent ‘smooth-jazz' explosion (or implosion according to some) destroyed ‘real jazz.'  Living is a good listen, but not a great listen, with bright spots that are bright enough to warrant adding it to your collection.  Many might argue that because there are four good songs on the CD that the CD is great.  Bottom-line: If you love the music of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra, you might want to want to grab this CD.  Just don't look for any of them to come alive on it.

By Drake Phifer

 
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