(Kings Place, 7 Feb 2020. Review by Leah Williams.)
Cherise Adams-Burnett had an incredible whirlwind year in 2019, performing across the globe and being named Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year, and she’s kicking off 2020 in the same successful fashion, not just by by joining the cast of Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind (REVIEWED) but also, less than a week later, launching her debut EP, Paradise.
Kings Place is becoming a successful and popular location for album launches and has hosted many rising stars in their early days and, on Friday, Cherise became the latest. From the moment she bounced onto stage, it was clear she was completely in her element up there. Being a fantastic singer or musician doesn’t necessarily make you a natural performer, but Cherise has that kind of relaxed quality that immediately creates an intimate, enjoyable atmosphere.
An abundance of talent aside, it was this, the authenticity of her personality, that really made the night. Whether singing with quiet, intense beauty, scatting with energetic freedom, testing the limits of her vocal range and sound texture, or dancing around with a big smile on her face, there was Cherise quite clearly shining through it all. At certain points, there was a reminder of global sensation Cécile McLorin Salvant, with an instrumental approach to the voice and a playful, quirky element that had the audience laughing along.
Her excitement about being there to celebrate her EP was palpable and a good reminder of how much dedication and hard work goes into make something like this happen. Another on Tomorrow’s Warriors’ glowing alumni list, she gave thanks to the organisation for “teaching her how to do this” and, although there may have been many strands of support, there’s no doubt the success is all hers.
There is an obvious ‘jazz’ feel throughout, but a wide range of influences clearly go into making Cherise’s distinct sound. From the Neo-soul vibe of her debut single Paradise to the lyrical, latin jazz groove of the captivating Violet Nights with some somewhat tongue-in-cheek classical vocalising, she transitioned easily between sounds and approaches while keeping her own musical personality firmly in place.
Also a talented flautist, the instrument’s melodic soprano notes (injected with a serious dose of jazz cool) are sure to become a trademark of her music. A catchy flute line certainly added something special to the opening of her debut single Paradise, which she cleverly chose to close with; no doubt plenty of people will still have had it running around their heads the following morning.
This performance has solidified her spot as one of the most exciting new talents on the jazz scene and as she leaned towards the crowd and gently sang “imagine, my darlings, that we are in paradise” it really didn’t require any stretch of the imagination at all.
Leah Williams is a freelance journalist and editor working across many different sectors and has been a regular reviewer and feature writer for LJN since 2016.
Cherise Adams-Burnett and band. Photo © Giedrė Čėsnaitė