“Glorious vocals...” - The Boston Globe
"The exquisite, soulful vocals of April Hall deliver every lyric with emotion and conviction." -Jazz Times
“...Visceral power, impresses by not trying to impress.” -Northeast Performer
"Oh yea, She Swings!"-The Phoenix
"Hall delivers with honey-coated phrases that melt gracefully while she upholds the tradition"-All About Jazz
“The effulgent Hall has a rich commanding voice and the stage presence of an old soul of jazz.” -Boston Globe
"…An achingly beautiful voice" -All About Jazz
"... her instrument is a pleasingly clear and expressive" -Cadence Magazine
"...Hall has a sultry edge to her singing, but the overall atmosphere is an easy one, a warm wind wafting across softly."-All About Jazz
“Hall's vocals soar...her range of vocal ability goes from soft and understated to powerful an heartfelt. ” - Jazz Reviews.com
"…She uses phrasing to bring out the emotional strength of the lyrics…" -All About Jazz
"Hall makes the lyric jump and sit up with her vocal acrobatics.” -All About Jazz
+ Jazz Times Magazine
Jazz Times Magazine Review "Room for Two" - April Hall Jazz Times Magazine by Scott Albin June 24, 2012
Those who heard April Hall's impressive 2008 Fun Out of Life CD may have wondered why such a fine singer was not better known outside of her Boston-area base. With the release of her new Room for Two CD, it's time to wonder once again. The Berklee College of Music graduate is presented this time in a duet format, a stark and challenging setting for any vocalist, and her signature versatility and genuine expressiveness are clearly evident. Hall's duet partners include pianist Tim Ray on three tracks, guitarist Gray Sargent on two, drummer Les Harris, Jr. on two, and tenor saxophonist Tom Hall, accordionist Joe Barbato, and bassists Marty Ballou, Mark Poniatowski, and Marshall Wood on one each.
"Amazing Love" finds Hall's soulful, rich voice and relaxed but sure phrasing combining to great effect with Sargent's sympathetic accompaniment and blues-inflected solo. Ballou's responsive, resonant bass meshes perfectly with Hall's enjoyable Fats Waller influenced vocalizing on "Honeysuckle Rose." "To Whom It May Concern" is given a properly reflective treatment by Hall that further confirms her great ability to sing ballads in both moving and memorable fashion. Ray's floating, understated piano is an added plus. For "I Want to Be Happy," Harris, Jr. gives Hall an inventive soundscape using just mallets at first, but the tempo accelerates when the drummer switches to brushes. He delivers a riveting solo and pushes Hall relentlessly until she bursts into helpless laughter at the end of this delightful exercise in rhythmic flexibility between drums and the human voice. Poniatowski's booming, elastic bass is yet another perfect match for Hall's generally legato, sensual phrasing during "Black Coffee." Hall simply devours material of this nature, alternately breathy or declarative, but always eloquent. It's a pleasure to hear Hall sing the seldom included verse of "You've Changed," as well as to experience such an absorbing, nuanced, above-the-norm interpretation overall. Ray again proves his skills in both comping and soloing. Hall successfully utilizes a huskier intonation for Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing for You." Wood here proves to be one of the three simpatico, stalwart bassists who elevate Hall's performances on this session. Hall seems to have an affinity for songs dealing with the season of Spring. After her magnificent reading of "You Must Believe In Spring" on her previous CD, she now aces "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," and thankfully again includes the verse. Harris, Jr. shows once more his command of drum sonorities, especially with mallets, which brings to mind Chico Hamilton. If anything, Hall's pacing of this tune is even more deliberate than usual, but the result is entrancing, especially so with Harris, Jr.'s resourceful input.
Tom Hall begins "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" with an undulating, bluesy, post bop intro on tenor, prior to the singer's insinuating exposition. The saxophonist's complementary obbligatos and melodic solo lead on to a rousing duo reprise. The importance of singing the verse is again illustrated with "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry." Hall sings the tune with heartfelt emotion and pinpoint control. Sargent's pliant low-key guitar accentuates her voice on what is one of the recording's strongest tracks. Hall intones "My Baby Just Cares For Me" appealingly in a sexy saloon style, slightly old-fashioned, and Ray's playing resembles a sort of refined Earl Hines, minus Fatha's trademark embellishments. Barbato's accordion intro to "That's All" is graceful and ingratiating, and Hall's trip through the lyrics is buoyant and full-bodied. Barbato's nimble, thematic improv brings still more luster to this beguiling closing selection.
+ The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe JAZZ - "April in January" January 7, 2009 By June Wulff
April Hall's new CD, "Fun Out of Life," includes a track - the longest one - we've been humming because it's gorgeous and will help get us through the winter. "You Must Believe in Spring" by Michel Legrand shows off the vocalist's chops and her emotional commitment to this gem of a tune. The Boston-based singer will warm you up tonight when she celebrates the record with pianist Tim Ray, drummer Kenny Hadley, bassist Mark Poniatowski, guitarist Jon Damian, saxophonist Tom Hall, and Amadee Castenell on tenor sax and flute.
+ Jazz Times Magazine
Jazz Times Magazine, By Scott Albin APRIL HALL: YOU MUST BELIEVE IN SPRING
TRACK: You Must Believe In Spring ARTIST: April Hall (vocals) CD: Fun Out of Life (Bee Boy 0902) Musicians: April Hall (vocals), Jon Damian (guitar). Composed by Michel Legrand, Jacques Demy, Alan & Marilyn Bergman. Recorded: Boston, MA, date not given; released October 2008 RATING: 96/100
April Hall is a Boston-based singer with a voice so flexible and wide-ranging that she can sound like several completely different vocalists as you move from track to track on her Fun Out of Life CD. Her strongest performances come on bluesy numbers such as "Boogie Woogie Blues" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love" where she allows her voice free reign, as well as on "How Deep is the Ocean" and especially "You Must Believe in Spring," where controlled intonation and tasteful, subtle phrasing are the keys to success. The dramatically emotional "You Must Believe in Spring" is a challenge for any singer, and Hall's interpretation is one of the better ones you'll ever hear. No vocal tricks or horn-like phrasing, but rather a commanding, sharply focused approach that would transfix a live club audience, bringing even the rudest patrons to rapt silence. Jon Damian's lovely guitar intro and coda, as well as his accompaniment and impressive Joe Pass-flavored solo, only help to magnify the impact of this duet track, his playing a perfect complement for Hall's lustrous voice. Her resonant timbre and varied delivery are to be admired, and she's equally assured in both the upper and lower registers. One must also note Hall's refined inflections and flawlessly sustained long tones. This is a heartfelt, moving and unassuming version of a classic song.
+ Jazz Review
JazzReview.com Featured Artist: April Hall CD Title: Fun Out of Life Year: 2009 Record Label: Bee Boy Records Style: Jazz Vocals Musicians: April Hall (vocals), Joe Mulholland (piano), Kenny Hadley (drums), Mark Poniatowski (bass), Jon Damian (guitar), Tom Hall (tenor and baritone sax), and Amadee Castenell (tenor sax and flute)
Review: Vocalist April Hall has released her first jazz CD, Fun Out of Life, a 12-track album of classic jazz numbers. Hall, who has been singing in jazz clubs in Boston and the Northeast, has a strong voice and an easy style that serves her well on the wide-ranging CD.
The album offers up a variety of styles to showcase Hall’s talent. There are ballads and heartbreakers (“You Must Believe in Spring,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “I’m a Fool to Want You”), a blues tune (“Boogie Woogie Blues”), and songs for having a good time (“Nevertheless” and “Getting Some Fun Out of Life”).
The biggest surprise on the album is the inclusion of Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” It’s a gem of a song. Although it has been covered by other artists, it has not been overdone and remains fresh. Hall does the song justice, turning in a soulful version that works the different registers of her flexible voice. New Orleans saxophonist Amadee Castenell is featured on the song.
The other highlight is Hall's version of “I’ve Got the World on a String,” which opens the collection. Her rendition is softer and a touch slower than many of the other recordings of the song, but she still manages to capture the song’s breezy charm.
The Florida native was raised on a mix of gospel, country, R&B, and jazz music, and her versatility shows. Hall, who has written her own music and released her first CD in 2000, has been honing her jazz skills for the last several years, and the payoff comes on the latest release.
Several of Boston’s top musicians join Hall on the album, including Joe Mulholland on piano; Kenny Hadley on drums; Mark Poniatowski on bass; Jon Damian on guitar; and Tom Hall on saxophone.
Tracks: I’ve Got the World on a String, Boogie Woogie Blues (I May Be Wrong), Foolin’ Myself, You Must Believe in Spring, Crazy He Calls Me, The Face I Love, Please Send Me Someone to Love, This Can’t Be Love, I’m a Fool to Want You, Nevertheless (I’m in Love with You), How Deep is the Ocean, and Getting Some Fun Out of Life
Artist's Website: http://www.aprilhall.com Reviewed by: Donna Kimura
+ Jazz Notes
Jazz Notes "Jazz Notes", by Ken Frankling April Hall, Fun out of Life (Bee Boy Records) May 15, 2009
Florida-born, Boston-based April Hall is a singer of great quality and taste, as shown on her new CD, her second as a leader. She sings great standards, but none of the tired tunes. You know what I mean by tired tunes – the half-dozen or so songs that have been done to death by so many singers they really don’t need to be done again by anyone - but usually are ad infinitum. Hall has a great voice, a strong sense of material and a superb backing band, with Joe Mulholland on piano, Kenny Hadley on drums, Jon Damian on guitar on two tracks, and Tom Hall and Amadee Castanell sharing saxophone duties. In particular, this is a great showcase for Mulholland, whose sensitive accompaniment is as good as it gets. Hall is an award-winning songwriter, but this project celebrates the contributions of other musical wordsmiths. Her version of Michel Legrand’s classic “You Must Believe in Spring” is a tour de force.
+ Boston Globe
The Boston Globe Critic Picks January 2, 2009 By Kevin Lowenthal, Critic
Pick of the Week: April Hall's "Fun Out of Life" The native Floridian sings standards in a voice of honey and smoke, with a vital blues and gospel-informed swagger that draws from her Southern roots.
+ CD Review "Fun Out of Life"
CD Reviews: April Hall, “Fun Out of Life” Posted by: Editoron Saturday, January 17, 2009 By Edward Blanco
Performing with some of New England's finest musicians for over a decade now, vocalist April Hall now releases a collection of soft ballads and reworked jazz classics in one nice package she gracefully titles “Fun Out of Life” taken from the Leslie/Burke standard “Getting Some Fun Out of Life,” the finale tune on this album. Having deep roots in the south, where she's from originally, Hall uses a soulful approach to her singing, which combined with a light sultry kind of voice, seems the perfect mix for singing songs like “Crazy He Calls Me,” “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” and the sensuous “I'm a Fool To Hold You” where pianist Joe Mulholland has free reign on a spacious introduction.
Her unique style is evident right from the opening standard right from the Sinatra songbook, “I've Got the World on a String” where Hall carries the lyrics with elegance unleashing her talents on this opening ballad. Tenor saxophonist Tom Hall puts a bluesy spin with a blazing intro and dicey solo performance on “ Boogie Woogie Blues” in support of a swinging Hall at work.Hall gives way to bassist Mark Poniatowski and Mulholland's handy play on the piano to share the limelight on the classic “This Can't be Love.”
Irving Berlin's “How Deep is The Ocean ?” never sounded so sweet, though very brief at less than three minutes, is nevertheless worth remembering. Other noteworthy tunes includes the slow moving “Foolin' Myself,” “You Must Believe In Spring” and the hard-driving charmer, “Nevertheless (I'm in Love With You) featuring the rolling drums of Kenny Hadley and the pianist supplying terrific instrumentals here.
If you like your jazz vocals delivered in light graceful fashion, then a spin of “Fun Out of Life” may be just what you're looking for. Delivered by a unique vocalist in April Hall, this is one of the stronger vocal performances you may come across
Year: 2009 Label: Bee Boy Records Artist Web: www.aprilhall.com
+ All About Jazz
All About Jazz All About Jazz, August 2, 2009 April Hall "Fun Out of Life" -By Jim Santella
The songs that April Hall has selected for Fun Out of Life contain an emotional pull that combines with memories from nearly a century of heart throbs and goose bumps. These songs send a chill down the spine simply because they're favorites and because each one contains a message that shines through comfortable musical elements.
Hall treats each selection with carefully chosen instrumentation, coloring each with appropriate hues. “You Must Believe in Spring” evokes a Spanish classical setting as guitarist Jon Damian accompanies the singer in a slow-moving dance. “Foolin' Myself” adds two saxophones to the piano trio to give Hall a traditional, New Orleans appeal, while “Please Send Me Someone to Love” carries out a purebred gospel scene with tenor saxophone and piano trio kickin' it in.
Originally from Florida, Hall demonstrates roots that are tied to the Deep South: a sincere blues feeling, an emphasis on telling stories through song, and a dedication that gets her all wrapped up in what she's interpreting. No wonder she earned the Louis Armstrong Performance Award while she was at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Her most expressive venture comes with a gospel-drenched interpretation of “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” Offered with tenor saxophone and piano trio, Hall's rendition oozes warmth and a genuine love for the song's message.
Similarly, she interprets “I'm a Fool to Want You” slowly with piano trio and opens her heart to its power. Billie Holiday, Sheila Jordan, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Frank Sinatra each gave that song a touch of class; here, Hall delivers with honey-coated phrases that melt gracefully while she upholds the tradition.
Closing with her title track, she adds baritone saxophone and guitar to the piano trio for a swinging party. “When we want to sing, we sing / When we want to dance, we dance,” she sings, to remind her audience that the music embarks on a journey that refreshes and revitalizes. April Hall is having fun all right, and it's contagious.
Track Listing: I've Got the World on a String; Boogie Woogie Blues (I May Be Wrong); Foolin' Myself; You Must Believe in Spring; Crazy He Calls Me; The Face I Love; Please Send Me Someone to Love; This Can't Be Love; I'm a Fool to Want You; Nevertheless (I'm in Love With You); How Deep Is the Ocean; Getting Some Fun Out of Life.
Personnel: April Hall: vocals; Joe Mulholland: piano; Kenny Hadley: drums; Mark Poniatowski: bass; Jon Damian: guitar (4, 12); Tom Hall: tenor saxophone (2, 3), baritone saxophone (3, 12); Amadee Castenell: tenor saxophone (7), flute (6).
+ Music News
Music News 2012 April Hall and her musician friends shine on Room For Two CD By Bill Copeland on May 20, 2012
April Hall has been on the Boston jazz scene for many years. Her unusually rangy, scintillating voice easily fills the open spaces on her latest CD Room For Two. Room For Two is about having two musicians on each track, Hall and the instrumentalist who plays a duet with her, one voice and one instrument, to great musical effect .She can pit her vocal against a booming bass rhythm and provide the sole melody line with just her voice. Hall has selected the perfect personnel to accompany her, each with their own emotive tones.
“Amazing Love” opens the CD with an easeful interpretation of the vocal melody line. Hall presses her vocal out over the gentle strumming from Gray Sargent’s acoustic guitar. She can at once sustain a note and move it up or down the scale. An instrument onto itself, Hall’s voice finds the right moments to reappear in the song. After Sargent’s brief interlude, her vocal seemingly comes out of nowhere, full of emotion, full-bodied, and lush with tones.
“Honeysuckle Rose” gets its palpable rhythmic backbone from bass player Marty Ballou. Yet, it’s the way Hall rounds the curves in this snappy low end groove that gives a winning charm. She jumps right into the open space created when the player pauses. And her wringing out the supple vocal notes in the closing bring to fore another spoonful of bright, shiny sweetness.
Caressing the heck out of a vocal melody line is Hall’s specialty. “To Whom It May Concern” is a case in point. Hall’s breathy eloquence brings in a sophistication only matched by the soft, unstudied emotive piano tinkling by Tim Ray. Listening closely to how Hall rides the verses, it’s as if she’s carefully measuring how much gustiness to put inside her sustains, and she never misses her guesses.
“I Want To Be Happy” comes into the listener’s consciousness with hip, percussive touches from Les Harris Jr.’s drum set pieces. An emotive wallop comes from the way Hall belts out one verse then swiftly sings the next set of verses at the same pace as those speedy fulsome drum notes.
“Black Coffee” is a song about nervous insomnia and sleepwalking. Hall embodies and personifies the song’s frustration. She drawls out the anxious wakefulness with easeful, down tempo sustains and phrases. Her sudden switching from gentle crooning and cooing to belting out a single line quite effectively conveys the emotional pain behind the sleeplessness. The voice makes you feel the lonely longing. Knobby, wooden bass notes from Mark Poniatowski form the steps that Hall steps over. Each low end note connotes its own sense of frustration and weariness with their deeply felt tones.
A pop sensibility informs Hall’s interpretation of “You’ve Changed.” Shades of Broadway and old time radio classics mark this examination of a fading love with an accessible brightness. You can almost picture Hall as a 1940s starlet singing this at a piano inside a posh nightclub in a black and white movie. The least jazz influenced song on Room For Two, “You’ve Changed” could easily find a place on modern radio play lists. Hall gives it a straight-forward earnestness rather than color in the vocal melody lines with shadings of tone and timbre. Instead she lets the piano do most of the sprightly talking while she sings over it like a pop singer with jazz training.
“The Best Thing For You” finds Hall once again employing her arsenal of techniques. She vocally tap dances her way around a palpable bass line like an old pro. She fills each subtle line with meaning, infusing her delivery with brightly sustained notes. And boy can she pick the right low end man for each of these duets between voice and bass. Bass player Marshall Wood gives this tune plenty of moody energy. He plucks nimbly enough to make the bass sound like a polite singer with a lower register, staying humbly away from the vocal melody while simultaneously supporting it.
Anticipation builds from Les Harris’s melodramatic drum work on “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.” Hall’s sensational vocal highs are enough to match wits with the drums. She just milks every nuance out of her lyrical possibilities. You can hear high notes, emotive tones, a rich timbre, bright ranginess, sensual sustains, and a whole lot more in her phrasing. She has a good thing going on in her ability to ride her range up into the higher notes and then to move around up there in the stratosphere, spreading her talents and qualities generously before riding it back down. Hall makes you feel how much she longs for a better season in one’s life.
Tenor sax joy from husband Tom Hall introduces the ears to the assertive “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You.” Duet with a tenor sax might be a challenge but Hall doesn’t show any signs of being matched. She lets Mr. Hall strut his own stuff around the open space before she does her own sophisticated zigzagging with the melody line. She can suddenly rise her vocal pitch to contrast with the breathy organic brass instrument and that sharp distinction is where her talent lies.
“I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” finds Hall and guitarist Gray Sargent in perfect communication. Hall’s voice unfolds as softly as a ball of yarn while Sargent applies a gentle, affectionate strum that accommodates tastefully. Much emotion then pours out of what on the surface is a subtle application of voice and guitar but in actually is quite effective and moving.
The jaunty “My Baby Just Cares For Me” finds Hall singing with a lilting, springing lift. She joyfully tosses each lyric up in the air with a slight adjustment in her range and catches it mid tempo and tosses it again. This allows her to fill each word with feeling so that the listener is experiencing the story on an emotional level while following the flow of notes The joy in the words Hall sings are perfectly matched by the lyrical meaning. Mr. Ray’s piano melody is another treat for mind and heart.
Accordion melody from Joe Barbato inspires the listener on Hall’s closing track “That’s All.” Hall rides over the bouncy instrumentation with a gliding vocal. And the contrast between her glide and Barbato’s bounce highlights the strength in each. Hall moves her vocal along with just the gentlest push and the effect forces you to listen carefully to her phrasing, to savor each bit of it.
Hall succeeds greatly at creating duets with musical instruments. Room For Two is an ambitious, impressive, and very pleasing effort. If Hall is this good in a live concert setting, she will surely be a top draw at any jazz club. Aside from Hall’s voice and the musicianship, Room For Two comes with a booklet of descriptive motion poetry by James Cudworth that enhances the musical experience by making the songs appear in your imagination even more strongly.
+ Jazz Review
Jazz Review Review: April Hall, "Fun Out of Life" Date: August 30th, 2009 By: This is Book's Music
When you have a good singing voice, share it with the world is what I often say. When you have a great voice, it is only a matter of time before others will notice. Okay so maybe it’s time, hard work, and determination. Of course I did not forget talent, and someone who has all of this is April Hall, whose Fun Out Of Life (Bee Boy) is a nice middle finger to those who insist jazz has no more life.
What moves me about hearing Hall is that this woman can sing, without a doubt. But she’s not just a jazz singer, for while she has done some work with pianist Pamela Hines (whose work I’ve reviewed a number of times over the years), she also has a folk album in her discography. But when I hear songs like “Foolin’ MySelf, “Boogie Woogie Blues (I May Be Wrong)”, and “I’m A Fool To Want You”, she can really tear it up in the blues department and I would love to hear her in a soul setting.
In other words, what I hear is character from someone who sings with a lot of passion and heart. I can’t stand it when someone just sings jazz-by-the-book, it’s almost effortless regardless of how decent or half-decent the songs are. Hall makes me want to hear more, as she is very comfortable in what she does and her voice is very comforting. I think with her range, she could play around with the song selection too, not only do the expected jazz standards, but to take any song from any genre and reinterpret it into the April Hall songbook.
+ The Boston Globe - Go!
The Boston Globe Go! Weekend Friday, January 28, 2005 By Amy Graves
Chill, baby, chill
Lately go! has been feeling sorry for all you snow-bedraggled cavemen and cavewomen of Boston's Ice Age. We've seen you, digging out cars that could pass for igloos and squabbling over parking spaces, which is why we went looking for something that would start your weekend in a mellow tone. And when we heard that the April Hall Quartet has just begun a short residency at the Top of the Hub, well, clang-clang-clang went our trolley. As Hall (left) and her band swing through jazz standards with an effortless effervescence, we will be soaking up the clubby atmosphere of the sprawling, 360-degree bar and restaurant perched on the Pru's 52d floor. The effulgent Hall, a Berklee grad with a rich, commanding voice and a classy stage presence, leads a graceful foursome that includes Kenny Hadley on drums. Hall also sings with the local R&B ensemble Soul Kitchen. Hall, has the stage presence of an old soul of jazz.
+ Jazz Review
Jazz Review.com CD Title: Hall Sings Hines 2005 Record Label: Spice Rack Records Style: Jazz Vocals Musicians: April Hall (vocals) John Lockwood (bass) Reed Dieffenbach (drums & percussion) Pamela Hines (piano)
Review: When you hear a jazz group that presents a seamless and seemingly effortless style of playing, then you know that you have found something special. Such is the case with April Hall, John Lockwood, Reed Diffenbach and Pamela Hines on the new disk entitled Hall Sings Hines. Hall's vibrant vocal style is very nicely supported by the playing of Lockwood on bass, Dieffenbach on drums and Hines on piano. The opening number "I Go For You" establishes early the fun and enthusiastic style of playing that permeates this recording.
"I-95" has a Latin jazz flavor to it and it is driven by Hines enthusiastic and skillful piano playing. John Lockwood keeps a strong baseline playing just under the surface and his solo along with that of Diffenbach on drums is a playful give and take that adds a nice texture to the number. "Just Us" gives Hall a chance to really shine and her range of vocal ability goes from soft and understated to powerful an heartfelt.
"4-Blues" and "Encinitas" are nice slow easy numbers that again showcase the easy interplay between vocalist and trio members, each compliment the other and the end result is stunning. "To the Street" is an up-tempo number that bounces along and showcases Hines piano playing virtuosity. Hall's vocals soar and gently come to a landing on "A Stone," the next song that brings the beat down a level or two. "A Stone" also gives the trio sometime to shine and the playing is understated but very effective.
Hall and Hines pay tribute to some of the jazz greats that have gone before them on "We Could Have The Same." Ellington and Strayhorn sound great to me, as well as Gershwin, Porter, Parker and Monk. With more recordings like these, we can soon add the names of April Hall and Pamela Hines. This is a disk to listen to and enjoy over and over again.
Tracks: I Go For You, I-95, Just Us ,4 Blues, Encinitas , To The Street, A Stone, We Could Have The Same , Traces Record Label Website: http://www.pamelahines.com Artist's Website: http://www.aprilhall.com Reviewed by: Jim McElroy
+ American Songwriter Magazine
American Songwriting Magazine Hall Hits Pay Dirt With "Red Dirt" August 2002
American Songwriter's 2002 Lyric Winners are a cross-section of writers who are working to make their mark in today's music industry. Their lyrics were judged to be the best submitted in the six lyric contests held by American Songwriter Magazine. The winner of Lyric Contest “1” is April Hall of Boston, Mass. Her song, “Red Dirt Summer,” was selected as the best of this group of entries by our panel of music industry judges. Runner-up winners are: “Westbound To Roseville,” by Mike Metz of San Leandro, Calif.; “Little Green Soldiers,” by Virgil Jones of Shady Side, MD.; “Like Any Man,” by Mike Guiney of Gananoque, Ontario, Canada; and “Smoke,” by Aaron Parrett of Great Falls, Mont. Other entries with substantial votes from our judges are listed under “Noteworthy.” All of these finalist are to be commended. American Songwriter Magazine, American Airlines, Music City Music Productions and Martin Guitars sponsored this contest. Entry forms for the next contest are in this issue. April Hall is the winner of a Sigma DR-1ST Acoustic Guitar by Martin. Hall’s Song’ the 2002 for a Grand Prize Winner.
+ Jazz Celebrity Cafe
Pamela Hines, Piano, April Hall-Vocals - Hall Sings Hines Jazz CD, Jazz Celebrity Cafe.com
Delightful piano jazz spurred on a playful, powerful voice make Pamela Hine’s album a bit of sunshine on a rainy day. Hines’ ability to travel seamlessly from Latin-inspired rhythms to smoother, blues-flavored melodies grants the listener ample opportunity to sample a smorgasbord of influences and fused sounds. While the powerful stylings of Hines behind the piano are more than a mouthful alone, the vocals of April Hall manage to bring words to the winding, harmonic roadwork without being overbearing.
In songs like the “I-95,” where traditional elements of fringe Cuban jazz are presented and then tweaked by the sudden intrusion of bass and drums following the introduction, Hall’s voice provides authenticity to the Latin tunes.
+ Northeast Performer Magazine
Northeast Performer Magazine- July 2000 April Hall, Singer-Songwriter Breaking Down the Talent
Intro April Hall's debut CD Something Like That doesn't sound like a singer songwriter record, at least not like the kind you are used to. There's no "stamp" for it-it's not a Paula Cole wannabe, it doesn't have Sheryl Crow's drum loop with twang sound, not too much jazzed out Joni Mitchell either. Hall is fond of the hollow, woodsy acoustics of upright bass and unprocessed drums, along with acoustic guitar and the occasional Udu accompaniment.
The visceral power of the record comes through the strongest. For someone with Berklee-powered theory behind her, it is surprising to find nary a minor seven flat five throughout her 12 songs. Instead, the melodies are well-crafted and are performed expertly, and the other instruments find their places around them. In this way, the album doesn't really remind the listener of anything specifically.. It impresses by not trying to impress.
Experience When you are a big fish in a small pond, you flourish-you assume your role as the up-and-coming musician and you stay there because no one else comes along to challenge you. Having one musician in your small town is enough. And you go to a local college on scholarship because, well, you're the musician in your town."I dropped out because I wasn't really learning anything at my small college in Florida," Hall remembers. "I went to Berklee to Berklee instead." Moving to the larger musical community paid off. Hall would sink into horn arranging classes and become a bigger and better fish-with a polished voice and solid arranging skills as well. Hall won Berklee's Louis Armstrong award in 1993. She's been busy since then...
Skills "I write my own charts, I can lead the band through arrangements...I know the reputations that singers get. That's not me," she says with the kind of roil that makes you believe her- the same attitude she brings onstage. Hall has performed with Soul Kitchen, a local R&B outfit, for the past 2 years. Anyone who plays in a working band knows what it does to you-or, in better light, for you. There is an art to mining your emotional depths and finding the energy to sing cover tunes over and over again, especially in a band like Soul Kitchen which demands Aretha Franklin-like vocal acrobatics. To get onstage and live that music over and over again is something like training for an event, and event that doesn't' necessarily come. For Hall, the event has indeed come-in the form of Something Like That, her first offering of original material. Hall is married, she has a son, has been working in this music business for years doing GB gigs and backing up other singers. What has taken so long? I've always written songs on my own, I think it just felt right to do it now... I've spent so much time playing in bands and recording that, when it came time to do my record, I knew what I wanted. And I was ready to do it right, not cut and corners." Patience is a virtue, but it is a skill when teamed with focused determination. Hall gave her CD to her bandmates in Soul Kitchen. Then came the comments. "They were SO surprised. They're used to hearing me belt out Aretha tunes. They were like, 'It's so..quiet!" Everyone has positive things to say. But they've never heard me sing songs like these." The bulk of Something is on the milder side of the volume scale. But truth be told, "Likeness to Castles" has more than just a little funk to it. And it's a good example of how good a writer Hall really is. Medium slow 16th note backbeat rocker with horn lines-not hard to do, but nearly impossible to do well. You've heard them-the misguided funk tunes, sounding like a Chick Corea Electric Band experiment gone horrible wrong. But with Hall's powerful melody, everyone stays right where they should be. And there' the soaring vocal that is reminiscent of a certain R&B legend...
Knowledge Throughout the '70's and '80's, a young afro-ed drummer named David Garibaldi started playing funk with an ear from something different. The ensemble he played with, Tower of Power, asked the enduring question of it's audience-"What is Hip?" It is the perfect example of a question that has no good answer. Simply by asking it, means you have fallen into a trap. "I have been doing music for a long time. And I've lived. So when I write a song that has three chords in it, I don't stop and think, 'Hmmm. This song should have more chords in it.' That is something that alot of songwriter fall into..."-especially when you have Berklee theory buzzing in your trained ears. "If a song has three chords and sounds good, then it's done...you can ruin it if you add things just for the sake of adding them." Is this hip enough? No good answer, don't ask the question. "The exchange of ideas with other musicians is something that is so important. It's tough to bring your songs to a band and watch them bring it to life." You have to be clear about what you want the song to do, but you must temper that with some restraint. After all, your guitarist knows guitar better that you do, he knows its limitations and strengths. He may have something to offer. "you need to balance how much you direct and how much you are open to input from the band members."
Outro "I want to tour. I have a band to go out with. Everyone is excited about the record. I hope we can get it to happen." She knows the reality of the music world, that it's tough to get 4 musicians into a room for a rehearsal, forget about a tour for several weeks. But she has a strong record to support. She returns to the stamped out sound of singer songwriters. "I think that it goes back to your experience. If you aren't sure of what you want or how to get it, you end up trying to be 'hip." A producer's graceful touch can smooth over your rough edges and give you an instant appeal...and stamp you into something people will recognize and say, "Yeah it's like Ricki Lee Jones meets Jane Siberry..." Unless you know what you want and sound like yourself. (by Jonathan Babu)
+ The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe-2000 Hall cooks up own specialty!
Many of the photos on April Hall's CD "Something Like That" show her cradling her Takamine guitar, ready to launch into a ditty at a moment's notice. But, Hall plays guitar on only a few tracks. She leaves most of those duties to guitarist, Malcolm Granger, who cradles Hall's glorious vocals on a bed of folky, bluesy melodies along with stand up bass player Mark Poniatowski, drummer Norman Bergeron, Sax man Tom Hall, and Clutch Grabwell's Lennie Peterson on trombone. Fan's of Hall's R&B outfit, Soul Kitchen shouldn't expect too much of that band's swingin' sound. While some of Hall's songs are propelled by soulful beats, others draw from a palette that includes everything from neo-country to jazz. -Hayley Kaufman
+ All About Jazz
All About Jazz By Jerry D'Souza
Pamela Hines and April Hall continue their collaboration with a full album of tunes that Hines composed. The last time around, Hall was a guest vocalist on Twilight World. On the present effort, the tunes cross different streams and Hall gets in to them with compact ease. Her voice is supple and she uses phrasing to bring out the emotional strength of the lyrics.
Hines has a free-flowing gait as a pianist. Her ideas are relevant and they bring context to the development of her songs. She gets off on the right track with “I Go For You,” essaying a light undercurrent of swing. She improvises but keeps her inventions in check to make this a nice lithe tune. There is a balmy air to “Encinitas.” Hall has a sultry edge to her singing, but the overall atmosphere is an easy one, a warm wind wafting across softly.
It is time to go uptempo and flex the rhythm when they take it “To the Street.” Hines parlays some colourful runs, making her work all the more interesting as she steers clear of unnecessary flourishes. The blues has to be in there, and “4 Blues,” a traipsing song, is given a lucent presence by Hines while Hall makes the lyric jump and sit up with her vocal acrobatics.
Track Listing: I Go For You; I-95; Just Us; 4 Blues; Encinitas; To The Street; A Stone; We Could Have The Same; Traces.
Personnel: April Hall: vocals; John Lockwood: bass; Reed Dieffenbach: drums, percussion; Pamela Hines: piano.
+ Cadence Magazine
Cadence Magazine, By Alan Bargebuhr
Hines has written and arranged all the songs for this recital, plays two fisted piano in framing their themes, as well as in executing concomitant improvisations and she touches a good many bases in less than three quarters of an hour- from cooking up tempo chrneres ("I-95) to ballads ("Just Us" and "A Stone,") with a stop for some Latin modality ("Encinitas"). Her trio is tight well integrated and very supportive. Both Lockwood and Dieffenback make good use of their allotted space. April Hall a graduate of Berklee College (Boston) contributes her voice to the proceedings, her instrument is a pleasingly clear and hauntingly expressive.
+ Boston Soundcheck Magazine
Boston Soundcheck Magazine -November 2000 April Hall - Something Like That - 11-song CD Produced by April Hall By L.A. Joe
Can I use the words "Rikki Lee Jones?" Sums it up as far as style, at least on the wonderfully arranged "Prides Crossing "with its acoustic guitar, smooth conga shuffle, gentle horn selection, unexpected vocal harmonies, and April's lovely voice. And she looks good too, while I'm digging on it. Can I mention her voice again? You sure? O.K., I love her sweet, soft vocal thang and her words and delivery are superb. Sure it's folky all over, but who cares? This is great stuff right here dude. And no junk - I could list any/every song, but I'll go with the titles that move. "Shadow of a Woman" with its violin and bass accompaniment, "Round About the Middle," the funkified "Likeness to Castles," "I Climb the Trees," "Kisses Aren't Promises." Man, I can go on, but the hell with that. Forget the Rikki Lee thang; this girl is wonderful and her songs are great. How's that for a wrap-up?
+ Muses Muse Magazine
Muses Muse Magazine April Hall, Singer-Songwriter 11 Song CD- "Something Like That"
'Kisses aren't promises / Passion's not relief / All these things I see / Kisses they're not promises / No, love's not for sale / All these things are just as well.' The beautiful voice of April Hall makes songs like 'Kisses Aren't Promises' into something uniquely tranquil and content. Just that voice, and Malcolm Granger on soft acoustic guitar, that's all April needs to get the job done as resident landscape painter. I don't care if you call this folk, pop, or whatever. It's adult contemporary relief music that fully believes in the positive nature of the human condition.
Hall has one of the best voices around. She's Mrs. Joe Average, but never tries to demean the point like a Rosanne or such person. She has the same subtle prejudices, passions, dreams that anyone else has, but has the song inside her that transcends such mediocrity - so that she can get the tune right, and deliver the message straight to your mind in 5 minutes or less.
'I had a lover / Or something like that / I watched him closely / Cause I didn't want to forget / The tiny lines that crossed his brow / All the hard times passed / Well, they're just wrinkles now' is how the opening 'Something Like That' begins, harmonizing elegantly with Melissa Lewis, driving towards such a soft ending that is sadly over before you realize it.
Never one to repeat herself consciously, next up is the terribly different jazz-samba unit, 'Prides Crossing', written and arranged to gentle perfection by April herself. She wrote every song on the cd, why shouldn't she know just how all the tunes gotta be? Well, she switches from pop to soft jazz back to a folky base with clean, unshakable skill.
And next up is one of my favorites, 'Round About the Middle', a gentle soul that whispers through the darkness and employs a wistful violin to punctuate some of those quiet, foolish moments. 'Is that you down the hallway / And swimming in my pool / Am I givin' up everything am I just a fool / Are there instincts still unanswered/ And little shoes sewn up tight / I can't be the same and what a shame / And what could be more right.'
What else would you expect from a Berklee College of Music graduate, and winner of the Louis Armstrong Performance award? She now teaches a Jazz Vocal Ensemble at Brandeis University, when not busy cranking out exceptional cds.
+ Indie Only Radio
Indie Only Radio April Hall- Something Like That
April Hall has delivered a fantastic, honest, heart-felt recording! "Something LikeThat" is absolutely packed with clear powerful vocals and memorable melodies. April passionately tells her stories. Coupled with dazzleing vocal arrangements, this recording has a jazzy angellic-gospel feel.
April Hall and her band have the rare ability to deliver slightly different music styles, yet keep the records overall consistent heart-felt feel. Given the experience of all musicians involved "Something Like That" is more of a musical story book. April Hall accompanied by Malcom Granger -Acoustic Guitar, Mark Poniatowski-Acoustic Bass, Mike Piehl-Drums and Melissa "Chip" Lewis Background vocals help set this recordings sexy/seductive, passionate tone.
"Something Like That" is a great CD. You may reach for "Something Like That" if you are in the mood for Miles Davis "Kind of Blue". The songs contain that much passion! www.indieonlyradio.com
+ Chaos Realm Magazine
Chaos Realm "ENTER CHAOS REALM" -2002 April Hall - "Something Like That"
A very good disc, Ms. HALL uses as it's foundation her background in country & even Southern gospel. It spreads it's soulful wings into a folk sensibility that embraces both memorable music & at times, searing lyrics. Good stuff. www.aprilhall.com
April Hall-Something Right! October 4, 2000 Reviewer: A music fan from Boston, MA USA What more can your ask for? A fabulous voice who can claim she wrote all these songs. April is the real deal!
April Hall Rocks My World, March 13, 2000 Reviewer: Darcy G Wakefield from Maine Just last night I was listening to this CD and caught myself singing out loud with "Holding On," my favorite song on the CD. There aren't a whole lot of musicians I'll sing a long with, let alone listen to over and over, yet last night I found myself hitting my PLAY button again and again. Before I knew it I'd cleaned my whole house and played the entire CD at least three times. It's safe to say I love this CD.
Hall runs deep and true, September 26, 2000 Reviewer: A Fan from Ft. Pierce, FL April Hall's Cd "Something Like That" is something wonderful!! I love the whole thing, but would have to choose "Ohio" as my very favorite. "Goin' down the Ohio, Careful and slow" gives me goosebumps every time. And the depth and range of her voice makes one realize what an instrument the voice can be. If you haven't heard it make sure you do. Hard to characterize which makes it sooo interesting and fresh to listen to.
Something Like...beautiful!, May 21, 2000 Reviewer: A music fan from Naples, Florida I loved this album, great songs, great singing! I highly recommend it to everyone!
Find out what you've been missing! Reviewer: Roger McArthur from Cambridge, MA USA I saw April play live, and thought she flat out had one of the best voices I've ever heard, with material to match. I had to buy the CD to see if this came across on record, and I was not disappointed. The sheer range and quality of her voice comes through beautifully, and the well written songs add to the depth of that experience. If (like me) you're one of the lucky ones who get to hear her live, buy the CD, it'll make the next show even more fun! If you're one of those unfortunate people whose town she hasn't visited, here's your chance to find out what you've been missing.
Love it! January 30, 2001 Reviewer: A music fan from Valdosta, GA. USA Terrific voice, wonderful songs; this is a winner.