Album review | Amy K. Bormet’s Striking

Amy K. Bormet – shown here at the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, which she organized – has just released her first CD. Patrick Jarenwattananon/CapitalBop

by John Cook
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On her debut solo release, Striking, pianist and vocalist Amy K. Bormet blends elements that don’t often come together: Original songs that have a distinct pop sensibility mesh with considerable jazz chops from Bormet and her fellow instrumentalists. Yet the focus of the project is squarely on her vocals and her compositions, which explore many dimensions of personal relationships.

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Bormet plays in a range of contexts around D.C., both as a leader and a band member, but is probably best known as the house pianist for the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. This CD may arrive as a change of pace for those who have only seen her in straight-ahead jazz contexts: On it, her crisp touch, bebop-influenced harmonies and omnipresent rhythmic sense serve a more pop-song-oriented format.

Amy K. Bormet – “Closer”
Her robust musical abilities are more prominent on the lone instrumental track, “Girly Samba of Death and Destruction,” where Bormet’s extended rhythmic solo stands out from the generally more delicate, vocal-driven tunes that dominate the album. The ensemble is well used to support songs like “Maybe She Knows.” This tune shifts from a light, rockish feel as Bormet sings the lyric into saxophonist Brian Settles’ bleating solo, when he digs deeply into the straight-eighths rhythm with a finely improvised melody as Bormet and drummer C.V. Dashiell III also drive hard underneath.

Though the album is founded on original songs, the band also takes on three standards, which blend seamlessly in terms of delivery and thematic approach. As a result, Striking is a cohesive project from a relatively unique place, where the musicians’ instrumental technique and sound grasp of jazz heritage accent what is largely a singer-songwriter’s album.

Striking can be purchased at Amy K. Bormet’s blog by clicking here.

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