Dreams are elusive creatures. Snag one, and life can change suddenly: A yellow brick road appears. A good witch waves a wand. An inexplicable spirit conjures New York, where one suddenly bathes in the light of triumph, radiating beauty and warmth and love and sunshine. Meet Masumi Ormandy, a person of uncommon determination, an artist whose first jazz recording proves that capturing a dream can be as simple as singing a song.
Autumn Leaves features one of the hottest trumpet players in New York, Mr. Freddie Hendrix, inspired by the original recording by Miles Davis. I'll Be Seeing You, is a warm Bossa nova, floating like a sweet Brazilian breeze featuring Paul Meyers on guitar. On the Sunny Side of the Street, swings like mad with jazz great, Mr. Houston Person on tenor sax and inspired by Masumi's love of Louis Armstrong. The creative arrangements were created by master pianist, educator, Lee Tomboulian and supported by the top New York rhythm section of ; Dean Johnson bass and Tim Horner, drums. Masumi Ormandy receives a top shelf send off for her debut recording, worthy of the finest soloists on the New York scene today. Ormandy's vocals deliver conviction and heart, as she interprets the classic American Songbook.
Masumi had always known about music, had been around it since childhood, but sublimated her artistic pursuits for 43 years, while teaching English in Japan, her homeland. Life was full - she ran a school, trained teachers, immersed herself in the richness of American culture. She accomplished much. Yet, at age 77, after decades of providing selfless assistance to others, nurturing communication skills in students young and old, Masumi stepped into the sun, blinded by the conviction that there is no better moment than now: This was the time to fulfill a dream - kindle the flames of purpose and desire, sing jazz. Learning the language of a vocal music was an enormous decision and challenge. What’ s more, Masumi wanted to interpret the Great American Songbook, a labor transcending her cultural comfort zone. The result is “Sunshine In Manhattan,” an inspiring record with melancholic echoes of self- determination, focus and courage. It is a revelation, as much for Masumi’ s story as for the sound of her soul. She is living her dream. The opening track tells all. Masumi’ s misty read of “As Time Goes By,”an evergreen originally owned by Dooley Wilson in the film Casablanca, is an advisory and a declaration - she has livedthat lyric. She is a child of the second World War who fell in love with an American. She absorbed life’ s lessons from many sides, and when she offers the line, The fundamental things apply..., there is no second-guessing her meaning. She sings from experience, earning the right to add Jazz Vocalist to her impressive list of credentials. “Sunshine...” is her baptismal moment. And, who better to administer this rite than producer Roseanna Vitro? Roseanna, a Grammy-nominated vocalist and educator whose influence can be heard among musicians across generations, knew that Masumi was a special person. This record was a lifeproject, she understood, with unique contours and tracings. As such, different rules and procedures applied. What were they hoping to achieve, she asked? What is this record trying to say? Ultimately, they embarked on an act of discovery, with findings that surprised them both. Their roles converged, revelations blurring the line between student and teacher. In which direction did these enlightenments travel? Who was mentoring whom? This melding of mentor and protege proved an unexpected delight. So the story of “Sunshine...” is almost a fable. Two people came together for the purpose of making a record, then emerged with more than they imagined - music that breathes with conviction, and a deep and abiding friendship. Their partnership brought life. Thus, we are surrounded by the soft-edge glow of a dream. Sunshine In Manhattan” casts a sweet, illuminating light. The arc of Masumi’ s life resembles a rainbow. That legendary pot of gold, seekers hope to uncover? This record. Riches for all. ~Jeff Levenson July 2016