Underwood Uncurling, is the title of Portland based Belinda Underwood's debut CD. Born to Serena (a jazz pianist) and Don Underwood (a horn player and inventor of the Underwood acoustic bass pick-up) improvisation was a part of her daily nourishment. Underwood studied voice and upright bass at the Jazz School in Berkeley, CA. where she met bassist, David Friesen, during a workshop, and a mentor relationship began.
Underwood opens the CD with "Born to Be Blue," a relaxed half-time swing that compliments Belinda's matter-of-fact Billie Holiday-esque delivery. Bassist, Phil Baker, presents a soulful solo with great intonation and skillful execution. Halfway through the release we stop at Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean," a cut featuring Underwood as the vocalist and bassist. Underwood delivers steady and consistent bass lines to this straight ahead rendition.
A highlight in this release is the emotional Beatle over-toned "Say my Name." Underwood shows her talent on baritone ukulele with extremely tender and hypnotic treatments. Her ability to convey raw emotions and lifelike lyrics further draw you into her unique vibe. Her phrasing and delivery are emotionally real and many times much more believable than many of the commercially successful vocalists on the charts.
David Friesen, mentor and fellow bassist along with percussionist Airto Moreira are featured guests on "Later Baby," "You're Everything," and "Unspoken Thought." These three selections are consistently modern and uniquely reminiscent of Chick Corea's "Light as a Feather" album, featuring Flora Purim.
The release finishes out with "There Will Never be Another You," a duet with David Friesen (missing from the CD booklet) on bass and Belinda in her most organic setting yet. The two interact beautifully creating an intimately raw cut that features Underwood scatting in a relaxed flowing state of bliss.
Underwood Uncurling is cutting edge modern songwriting, coupled with uniquely organic vocals and backed by quality musicianship. This is definitely a release for the listener that enjoys depth and meaning in their CD collection.
- Carmel DeSota, Jazz Police Feb 2005