Carol Welsman

carol welsmanThe dynamic, multi-talented Carol Welsman may be less well-known to jazz and pop fans as her fellow Canadians Diana Krall and Michael Buble, but over the course of six genre-busting albums in the past 12 years, she’s found a fascinating niche as a true global citizen of the world. Some interesting accolades should do the trick as far as introduction to her powerful impact as a recording artist and live performer. She won “Pianist/Keyboardist of the Year” at the 2006 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, and was a nominee for “Best Female Vocalist”, “Album of the Year”, and “Best Pianist/Keyboardist” in 2007. Four of her previous CDs have earned Juno Award nominations, the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy Award. Pierre Cossette, renownedproducer of the Grammy Awards, produced Carol’s last project, a CD/DVD  “What’cha Got Cookin’, released in Japan, and Canada in 2006. It garnered a nomination for “Album of the Year.

In 2004-2005, she took her act international, performing in Japan, Italy, Brazil, the U.S. and French Canada. She also performed her original song “This Lullaby” on Larry King Live for the 9/11/04 Commemoration; Celine Dion recorded it on her 2004 Miracle album as “Baby Close Your Eyes. Throughout that year, a camera team followed Carol around the globe to capture her musical magic, and "The Language of Love" documentary showcasing her career aired across Canada on CBC in 2005. With special guests Herbie Hancock, Brazil’s Djavan, and Oscar Castro Neves (producer of Carol’s Juno nominated CD, “The Language of Love”), it continues to receive rave reviews.

It’s ironic that Carol took seven projects to finally record a self-titled album, but maybe that speaks to the fact that, of all the others, this is the one that truly captures her deepest musical heart. Produced by and featuring Jimmy Haslip, legendary for his work with The Yellowjackets, her debut for the Montreal-based Justin Time Records features an overall Latin and Brazilian vibe, a mix of well-known pop and jazz tunes and few originals, and—most strikingly—displays Carol’s incredible facility to sing in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. It’s truly a remarkable travelogue featuring all the styles and rhythms she’s known for. The collection kicks off with the vibrant, briskly rolling Rio vibe of “Brazasia,” an infectious, cool toe-tapping song co-penned by Castro-Neves. With the sly saxophone assistance of Eric Marienthal, she keeps the exotic flow going and adds a touch of romance as she invites the listener to “Hold Me.” The minute she starts crooning beautifully in French on the balmy and soulful “Dans Cette Chambre,” you’ll swear you know it. And you do—it’s Gordon Lightfoot's classic love song “Beautiful.” Later, as a CD bonus track, she charms us with the familiar English lyrics with the same instrumentation, including Marienthal’s sax. 

Welsman reminds us what a charming pop singer she is on a simple, acoustic guitar driven samba-lite arrangement of “What A Fool Believes”; aside from her lovely, understated vocals, she actually makes every word clear and intelligible! Next, she really delves into the heart of Brazil, singing sensual Portuguese on Gilberto Gil’s charming “Eu Vim De Bahia.” The powerful Latin rhythms and playful melody of “Café”— featuring Carol’s powerful, Astrud Gilberto-inspired scatting—makes the listener wonder why she doesn’t write more than a few songs here. This infectious track stands up to any of the standards surroundng it. She brings out an intimate beauty in Madonna’s 80s ballad “Live To Tell” before using Spanish to express the tender sorrow on “Nosotros.” Then she swings back to her vibrant, irresistible jazz mode (keeping the rhythms Latin, of course) on the lively jazz standard “Too Close For Comfort.”After another deeply felt romance, “With Me,” Carol wraps up the main set with another gorgeous and sensual tune mixing Brazilian rhythms and the French language, “Dans Man Ile.” After “Beautiful,” the other bonus track is the Portguese language version of “Hold Me” called “Ora.”

Listening to her passionate renditions of these songs, it’s clear that Carol Welsman is an album she has been longing to make her entire career. But as you’re enjoying it over and over, allow it to also be an introduction to one of the most fascinating singers in the world. She has six other amazing CDs, so what are you waiting for?


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- Jonathan Widran