A key element of Fire Dance is the marvelous use of vocal overdubs. As many as 16 tracks on some pieces, ranging from bass to soprano – all sung by Beata in old-school style. No technological shortcuts, no gimmicks… just plain old-fashioned vocal virtuosity – not for its own sake, but woven intrinsically into the musical context of her sumptuous vision.
Although Beata is in the creative forefront of jazz vocal expression, there is a significant World Music influence here, along with some rich doses of R&B. The rhythmic thrust calls to mind the fiery exoticism of Middle Eastern, North African and Eastern European improvisational folk forms, defying category. A major part of this comes from Beata’s utterly unique wordless vocal style, impeccable in its intonation and as fluidly rhythmic as a wind instrument – sometimes serpentine like a shenai or oboe, sometimes as dulcet as an alto flute, and others as warmly beguiling as a muted trumpet – as she soars, dives, coils and shimmers inside, around and through the music. For Beata Pater, Fire Dance is another step in a life journey of totally singular and profound expression.
Reviews of Fire Dance
“…absolutely delightful. Ms. Pater and Alex Danson the composer have come up with fully integrated, interesting, tuneful, well thought out music.”
“I was prepared to be disappointed by this music which was described as wordless vocals, ‘pushing the envelope of vocal artistry’. There was also a very wordy enclosure describing the music, which is sometimes a bad sign, but the music turned out to be absolutely delightful. Ms Pater and Alex Danson the composer have come up with fully integrated, interesting, tuneful, well thought out music, much of it influenced by eastern folk elements, but still suitable to be called jazz, perhaps world jazz would be an appropriate term. Listeners shouldn’t be put off by the track titles; Curse Of The Locusts; Daylight Saving; Sand Dunes; Harvest Season; Fire Dance; The Princess; Round Dance; Flashback; The Quest; Reaping Spell; Ritual. There is a loose narrative feel to the whole work.The voice is one of the instruments of the band, often in the lead, and enhanced by multi-tracking, so the vocals are not scat at all, but are a well-integrated part of the whole. There is a rhythmic thrust which is influenced by North African and Eastern European music. Curse of the Locusts opens with jungle-like drums, then a staccato vocal, a jazz tune moving along well, then the saxes enter, sounding a bit like insects, and the track ends with a kind of resolution with pleasing overdubbed voices. Harvest Season has a peasant dance rhythm, full of joy; The Princess is a drifting, dreamy piece, lots of keys soloing, followed by a very free falling soprano sax. Flashback gives us a drone, eastern sounding vocals, shakers on the percussion, rounded off with jazzy keys. Reaping Spell has constant repetition, like the spell, and Ritual is layered, punchy and vocal driven. The instrumentalists are all well up to the mark. This is Ms Pater’s fifth album – her previous work has been mostly re-imagined jazz standards, and after hearing this album, I’d guess that the previous CDs are well worth the listening.”
John Sanders Bebop Spken Here
“The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.”
Beata Pater’s first five albums could be called ‘typical’ vocal jazz albums, as they featured the usual mix of standards and originals. That’s not to say her vocal approach has not been inspired, instead, she has received high marks for her flexible and fluid style, but no previous album she has made could prepare her followers for her latest, “Fire Dance”. On this new one, Pater employed Alex Danson to write eleven new originals, which Pater then arranged for multiple wordless vocal overdubs supported by a saxophone trio and a four piece electric rhythm section. The end result is a sort of modern big band made up mostly of Pater’s voice multi-tracked up to sixteen times on some cuts. The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.
Musically this album pulls from a variety of styles including modern RnB, post bop and fusion from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. The end result is sometimes similar to Weather Report in the late 70s, or any of Joe Zawinul’s bands since WR. Imagine the Swingle Singers covering classic Weather Report material and you might have a clue as to what is going on here. Along with Pater’s lead vocals, the saxophonists occasionally take short solos, and even exchange in free three way interplay on a couple cuts.
The make or break on here is Pater’s approach to wordless vocals. No doubt this was a very risky record to make, many have a right to fear what an album based around wordless vocals might sound like, but “Fire Dance” is a success due to a very careful use of vocal sounds that never become annoying or embarrassing. Pater is also careful to never overuse the so-called ‘scatting’ technique, a decision that saves this album from potential indulgence. Instead, all of the multi-tracked vocals on here are carefully arranged, much like a complex big band chart. Top tracks include two beautifully abstract numbers that appear in the middle of the CD, title track “Fire Dance” and “The Princess”. Both feature soaring vocals that recall a pre- Renaissance European style, as well as a classic Middle Eastern sound.
John Sanders Jazz Music Archives
“very contemporary fare that is certainly enjoyable.…a distinctly crisp and precise contemporary character sure to please any Pater fan.”
I have only been called out (by name) by another music writer once. But that once was over my review of Beata Pater’s Red (B&B Records, 2013), where my fellow scribe claimed I had reduced the artist’s performance to, ...”a gimmick with a pulse.” That said, Pater releases Fire Dance into her own vacuum. Pater specializes in, for lack of a better term, what can be called “wordless vocals.” This is not scat and it is not vocalese. It is Pater using her voice as an equal ensemble member. She melds well with soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz and baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington. This is very contemporary fare that is certainly enjoyable. All the eleven pieces are composed by Romanian born, California-based Alex Danson, bearing a distinctly crisp and precise contemporary character sure to please any Pater fan. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/more-female-vocals-andmore-- cheryl-fisher-natalia-m-king-beata-pater-ellenandersson- cecilia-persson-natalia-m-king-by-c-michaelbailey. phpC. Michael Bailey All About Jazz