Marc Secara and his Berlin Jazz Orchestra | Songs of Berlin Review
By Darnell Jackson
Marc Secara and his Berlin Jazz Orchestra was founded in 2000 by German singer Secara. Under the artistic direction of American trombone legend Jiggs Whigham, they have developed into one of the most renowned orchestras of its kind in Germany. Through the past two decades, they have performed many extraordinary concert experiences and have had guest appearances from New York Voices, Patti Austin, Thomas Quasthoff, Joja Wendt, Manfred Krug, and many others. Whigham is one of the most experienced orchestral conductors in Europe and has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, among others. Marc Secara and his Berlin Jazz Orchestra have made guest appearances in the major concert halls of Germany: sold-out performances in Hamburg’s CCH1, the Berlin Philharmonie, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Admiralspalast Berlin – with repeated guest appearances abroad, proving the impressive quality the ensemble has been able to develop over the years. Marc Secara and his Berlin Jazz Orchestra are now teaming up with American arranger and producer Jack Cooper to present the beautiful colors of the contemporary Big Band Sound as they give classics a new and exciting interpretation on their new album Songs of Berlin.
David Bowie’s “Where Are We Now” is a beautiful representation of Cooper’s arranging skills from the pop genre as he transforms the song into a delightful jazz sound. Secara’s vocals have elements of Bowie’s warm tones and relaxed phrasing, but he still makes the melody his by adding embellishments and his strong sense of rhythm. In addition, Jonas Schoen performs a thrilling saxophone solo focusing on the theme and building a narrative.
“Haus Am See” features the Berlin Jazz Orchestra playing a clean, brisk, and swaying Latin feel as Secara sings in German with female backing vocals. The arrangement balances raucous sections and gentle moments but never is lacking in energy. Whigham’s solo veers, twists, and turns with astute agility. The arrangement, singing, and playing all showcase subtlety and distinction of style.
In its entirety, Songs of Berlin has different styles, languages, textures, tempos, and standout arrangements conveyed with warm textured singing and exciting playing and solos. This is an album emphasizing diversity and promises much for the astute listener.
Songs of Berlin
Release Date: October 17, 2021