For several years now, Steinbach singing sensation Amber Epp has been wowing local jazz audiences with her ability to take virtually any jazz standard and make it her own. However, this, her debut album, is not so much jazz as world music. Rounded out by fellow stage veterans Scott Senior on percussion and Rodrigo Muñoz on guitar, Trio Bembe creates music which effectively transports the listener to an exotic tropical locale. The album balances unique arrangements of songs from various Spanish-speaking regions, along with some of Epp’s original compositions. Epp sings with a strong, seductive charm, and just the right amount of jazzy vibrato. Her sidemen aren’t too bad, either. Witness percussionist Senior’s ability to conjure up a full drum set with the use of a single tambourine on Rosebud. Standout tracks include Instantes, Rosebud and the sunny and danceable Así son las cosas.
Published in Volume 64, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 21, 2010)