Jazziz - 9/95, p.36
"...an impressive all-star band....[a] dynamic voice..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 7/95, p.119
"...Ferrell wails her six octave range with hysterical virtuosity over her superb trio to...impressive...effects."
Personnel: Rachelle Ferrell (vocals, piano); Eddie Green (piano); Kenny Davis (bass); Tyrone Brown (stick bass); Doug Nally (drums); Terence Blanchard, Alex Foster, Gil Goldstein, Wayne Shorter, Michel Petrucciani, Pete Livin, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White.
Recorded at Kajem Victory, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania; Broadway Productions, Englewood, New Jersey; Sound On Sound and Chelsea Studios, New York, New York between December 1989 and February 1990.
FIRST INSTRUMENT is Rachelle Ferrell's first album. It was released in Japan in 1990, but not made available in the U.S. until 1995.
Personnel: Rachelle Ferrell (vocals, piano); Alex Foster (soprano saxophone); Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Terence Blanchard (trumpet); Gil Goldstein (piano, synthesizer); Eddie Green , Michel Petrucciani (piano); Doug Goldstein (synthesizer, drums); Pete Levin (synthesizer); Doug Nally, Lenny White (drums).
Audio Mixers: Alec Head; Peter Darmi.
Recording information: Broadway Productions, Englewood, NJ (12/16/1989-02/??/1990); Chelsea Studios, New York, NY (12/16/1989-02/??/1990); Kajem Victory, Gladwyne, PA (12/16/1989-02/??/1990); Sound on Sound, New York, NY (12/16/1989-02/??/1990).
Photographers: Brian Agnew; Carol Friedman; Malik Yusef.
Only once every generation or two does a talent like Rachelle Ferrell's emerge, and after a listen or two to FIRST INSTRUMENT, you'll find it hard to believe that these tapes have been bouncing around since 1990. One can only wonder why, because Ferrell's instrument and her ear for interpretation are utterly unique. And while one can easily point to influences and antecedents, when all is said and done, Rachelle Ferrell is an original.
To get an idea of how original, flip directly to cut number nine, "Don't Waste Your Time." Beginning with cuica-like percussive accents over a shifting Afro-Cuban/swing pulse, Ferrell descends into her rich lower register to distance herself from a suitor's scheming and dreaming. She returns after the piano solo with elaborate horn-like arpeggios, first descending then ascending, shading her notes with expressive colorations and Coltraneish harmonic modulations, before leaping into an unearthly altissimo register for a clear whistling tone that must have Lassie doing cartwheels.
Ferrell's extraordinary stylings might suggest Sarah Vaughan's limitless top-to-bottom range ("Expressions") and Ella Fitzgerald's swinging rhythmic virtuosity ("Bye Bye Blackbird") to some well-travelled listeners. And like those two great stylists, Ferrell is often less concerned with the song's theatrical attributes than with its melodic contour and harmonic possibilities--as a jumping off point for her phenomenal variations. On "You Send Me" and a remarkable "My Funny Valentine," she fuses her dramatic and melodic approaches in the service of the song, while a traditional set of blowing changes--such as Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?"--is treated to an exploratory slam-dunking.