Nov 3, 2015
One of the more exciting fresh voices I’ve had the fortune to listen to this year comes from a 22 year old singer-pianist named Ariel Popock. Based currently in North Carolina, she is a graduate of the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and a double-award winner at the Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center - Outstanding Pianist and the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Vocalist Award.
Touchstone is her debut CD, and it has taken a twisted path to reach jazz fans, starting with a prematurely shortened stay at Verve Records, and ending on the fine Canadian label Justin Time (home of Hank Jones, Rana Lee, Halle Loren and others). Fortunately, Ariel was able to keep her Verve advance, and put the money to good use, assembling a killer band that any musician would die for. Imagine your first recording in a studio with Julian Lage (guitar), Eric Harland (drums), Larry Grenadier (bass), and Seamus Blake (saxophone). Where do you go from there?
The CD is a fine mix of standards, pop covers (James Taylor, Randy Newman), and even a Popock original, “Barrell Roll.” All of the arrangements were written by Ariel, and she sings and plays with a straight ahead confidence that belies her age.
Podcast 505 is my conversation with Ariel, as we talk about her song selection, how she got the band together, and even what music is on her Spotify list. Musical selections from Touchstone include “Ugly Beauty/Still We Dream”, “Barrell Roll” “When I Fall in Love” and the album’s highlight, “Real Emotional Girl.”