Reviews & Profiles
“HIGHBROW - BRILLIANT”
"Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen's The Ache of Possibility. Catchy new pop standards about the current depression..." New York Magazine: The Approval Matrix
1. Selected Radio and Television Appearances
The Tavis Smiley Show, Public Radio International, 11/6/09, interview & profile
WNYC’s Soundcheck, w/host, John Schaefer, 12/20/10 interview and performance
WGN Radio, Chicago, The Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan, 2010 interview
Better TV, w/host Audra Lowe, 12/4/09, interview
WCBS TV Saturday Morning, 11/7/09, interview & performance
Jeremy Gerard, January 24, 2010 06:53 PM
Long ago and far away I called Simon & Garfunkel "God's duo" against some pretty stiff competition (Jan & Dean, Sutherland and Pavarotti...). These days, I'd add to that list Louis Rosen and Capathia Jenkins, whose travels along a constantly extending musical road have taken them (and me and a host of their growing cadre of fans) from the Southside of Chicago to the racy love poems of Nikki Giovanni. They make music that stirs the soul.
On their latest album, "The Ache of Possibility" (Di-Tone Records DT225) Rosen, who composes and writes the lyrics, thickens his musical roux while continuing his collaboration with the poet. Four of the 12 songs on this exquisitely produced CD are tunes set to Giovanni's words, including "Love in Short Supply, A Statement on Conservation," whose lyric includes this: "Buying power in our world/Speaks to white illusion/Understanding what I need/I've come to this conclusion: Love is in short supply...).
Like Giovanni, Rosen himself takes a detour here from his customary romanticism with several timely numbers, including the title track that finds Jenkins, in gorgeous voice, jammming with a running bass line as she sings about hope in the post-W era. The timing couldn't be better; Rosen may be a dreamer but he has his feet on the ground, intellectually. "The Ache of Possibility" is not a paean to an untested young president but, as the title indicates, a kind of knife-edged psalm:
"I know the ache of possibility is now/Once again we plant the seed and speed the plow/Shed our sorrow/Stake a claim for the soul of tomorrow."
There's a healthy dash of Richard Farina on Rosen's "The Middle-Class (Used To Be) Blues," while "Winter Daze" recalls and improves upon his best tone poems.
Still, my favorites remain the love songs, especially the two that close the CD, "A Lover's Melody" and "Love of Song," the latter a bossa-nova inflected toe-tapper that speaks not only to the ache of possibility between lovers, but to the power of song itself. It's just swell.
Rosen and Jenkins are independent artists playing gigs around the country; catch them if you can and check them out.
iTunes Review, February 2010, by Barry Alfonso
Though small-scale in sound, The Ache of Possibility is an ambitious release that interweaves political commentary with expressions of love and optimism. On their third release together, Jenkins (a veteran singer/stage actress) and Rosen (an author as well as a skilled singer/guitarist) work in a relaxed acoustic jazz vein with folk and Off-Broadway overtones. The tunes here convey a Manhattan-style sophistication, embodied in Rosen’s literate, image-rich lyrics and Jenkins’ nuanced, slightly wistful delivery. The duo’s romantic numbers are smart and sexy, with the tender “A Lover’s Melody,” the billowing “I Want to Live to Love You” and the playful “I Need You” standing out among them. The album’s scathing yet hopeful title song and the wry “The Middle-Class (Used to Be) Blues” are protest tunes that carry real bite. The album also benefits from a brace of songs featuring lyrics by renowned poet Nikki Giovanni, among them “Don’t Hold Me Back” (an uplifting meditation set to a shimmering track) and “Choices” (a lightly bopping number about facing life’s limits).
TALKING BROADWAY - SOUND ADVICE
CD REVIEW by Rob Lester, November 21, 2009
Songwriters and Singers with Distinct Voices
In their third album collaboration of songs brimming over with intelligence and passion, full of musical adventurousness, writer Louis Rosen (who only occasionally takes vocals) and singer Capathia Jenkins succeed again. This is rewarding to hear, whether a track is bold or burnished, captures political unrest, or brings restful contentment as it paints a picture of romantic serenity. The CD is immensely satisfying and the songs are quite varied, but what they have in common is a striking originality and thoughtfulness. Singer and musical theatre actress Capathia Jenkins performs with such integrity and passion, always serving the song, and her warm and soulful voice conveys so much humanity. It seems she can sing anything—and with great control and presence.
On some songs, there's strong medicine in the messages, a few numbers have a lighter fun flavor, and it's always interesting. Nothing feels pat or mechanical or packaged. As a songwriter, Louis Rosen has a lot to say and finds interesting language choices with crisp images and his melodies are not predictable, manipulative or commercial. But they are pleasing and often intriguing.
Four of the lyrics are settings of the work of poet Nikki Giovanni, which was the sole focus of the previous Rosen/Jenkins CD, An Ounce of Truth. The music respects and brings rich colors to the poems, enhancing their sense of hope and determination in the midst of the hard truths of living with today's realities….
Capathia's voice is undeniably pretty and graceful, but it also has a strength and gustiness….And her glorious voice is like liquid in the warm-and-fuzzy romantic contentment odes "I Want to Live to Love You" and "On That Day." These are just lovely and winningly graceful, as is "A Lover's Melody," the dreamily sung promise of loving support during tough times ("Hear my voice above the din/ Song may be the remedy"). She can also be commanding and forceful, as in the title song, which is an indictment of the "world gone wrong" mixed with the new hope for change: the song was inspired by the vision of Barack Obama. Her sorrow is palpable in "Winter Daze" as she sings the terse, heartbreaking line, "Dreams do die," but the sense of down-but-not-out resurfaces near the end when she refers again to dreams, singing, "Can't let them die…."
Besides some subtle back-up vocals, Louis Rosen only makes two major vocal appearances—both making strong impressions. He sings his slyly comic gripe about a loss of income, "The Middle-Class (Used to Be) Blues," in his gruff tone, having some fun with words and initials ("The I.R.S. expects its money C.O.D/ My I.R.A., all I can say is R.I.P."). Then he does a charming duet with Capathia, "I Need You." It's a classic "list" song, a long list of similes that is a cut above the typical "Look, it rhymes" set of samples, because in addition to lines like "Like a beach needs a wave ... like a bear needs a cave," it has references to The Beatles and the Obamas and upping the ante by using homophones ("Like a baker needs flour, a flower needs a stem") These are very cute numbers in what is otherwise a rather serious set of songs.
Rosen plays guitar on all tracks, and his arrangements and instrumentation choices are particularly well done and gratifying. The excellent musicians play with care and sensitivity, called upon to set and embellish moods and are so much more than simply background or accompaniment. There is space in the arrangements, between vocal lines, to let them make brief but effective statements. Instrumentation varies from track to track, but especially evocative are the playing of Glenn Drewes on trumpet, Andrew Sterman who is heard on tenor, alto and soprano sax, clarinet and flute, and Rob Moose on guitar (mostly electric) and violin. Also heard to advantage is the vibraphone (Mark Sherman or Erik Charlston).
Capathia and Louis…Their combination is electric.
fulltimeblues.com, February 17, 2010
Capathia Jenkins & Louis Rosen - The Ache Of Possibility - Di-Tone Records 2010
The pairing of Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen first came together in 2005 in New York. The Ache Of Possibility is their third album together, and like past efforts (2006's South Side Stories and 2008's One Ounce Of Truth: The Nikki Giovanni Songs), the record combines Pop, Jazz, and Blues elements. The result is a beautiful mixture of sounds wrapped around lyrics written by Rosen on eight of the CD's dozen songs, as well as four tracks featuring lyrics by friend and poet Nikki Giovanni.
The Ache Of Possibility kicks off with the Gospel influenced "How You Gonna Save Em?" A tune that contains soulful horns from Andrew Sterman and Dave Phillips backing up Capathia Jenkins' deliberate and powerful singing.
"I Want To Live To Love You" is a smokey, jazzy love tune with lovely acoustic melodies by Rosen. There's a really cool solo break where in sections, Rosen's acoustic harmonizes along with Rob Moose's electric guitar, creating a brief, but awesome instrumental moment on the disc.
Many of the songs on the album deal with socially relevant subject matter, most of all the economy and hard times. "The Middle Class (Used To Be) Blues" explains how the gap between the haves and have nots is widening, and the middle class is evaporating. The songwriting by Rosen here is fantastic. Rosen also handles vocals for the first time on the record, here.
"Winter Daze" discusses hard times as well. "Love In Short Supply," though, is described as A Statement On Conservation, with Giovanni providing a contrast in her writing between the high demand for energy and low supply of caring. It's interesting to note here that the collaborations between Rosen and Giovanni on these songs is adapted from poems that Giovanni penned.
Love is another theme woven through The Ache Of Possibility. "On That Day" features beautiful flute and vibraphone work by Andrew Sterman and Erik Charlston, respectively. "Choices (The Best That I Can Do)" features vibraphone sounds, as well, along with flugelhorn. The various styles of instrumentation is a wondeful aspect of Jenkins & Rosen's music, providing the listener with a different experience from song to song. This, of course, is anchored by Capathia Jenkins' strong vocals.
The title track has a cool rhythm, anchored by Dave Phillips' bass playing. "The Ache of Possibility" lays out "the world gone wrong" with lyrics such as "Incompentence with every lie/Soldiers and civilians die/Money can't relieve our fear/And billions disappear each year." The deeply political song is very well written, with both music and lyrics by Louis Rosen. That bass line adding the perfect touch, along with some great violin fills by Paul Woodiel, as well as bongo playing by Roger Squitero. A powerful tune, to be sure.
"I Need You" is a duet between Jenkins and Rosen, with great comparisons like "Like Paul needed John/And John needed Paul." The clarinet by Andrew Sterman here is a cool touch.
The Ache Of Possibility wraps up with "Don't Hold Me Back," the album's final interpretation of Nikki Giovanni's poems; followed by the stripped down "A Lover's Melody," which features only guitars and bass backing Capathia's gentle singing; and finally, "Love of Song," a great tune about the love of music, played along a Spanish influenced melody.
The Ache Of Possibility is a wonderful album, certainly not hardcore Blues by any stretch of the imagination; but wonderfully eclectic, with influences of Blues peeking through along the course of the album's 52-minutes. The most notable aspects to pass along in this review are that Capathia Jenkins is a fantastic singer, and Louis Rosen is just as strong with the pen. That combination of singer and songwriter provides you with a great, socially concious, entertaining record.
Standout Tracks: "The Ache of Possibility," "How You Gonna Save Em?" and "The Middle Class (Used To Be) Blues"
THIS WEEK IN NEW YORK Capathia Jenkins & Louis Rosen: The Ache of Possibility
The dynamic duo of guitarist Louis Rosen and vocalist Capathia Jenkins return to Joe’s Pub for a four-night engagement beginning November 8 and continuing on November 14, 21, and 22 in celebration of their smashing new CD, THE ACHE OF POSSIBILITY (Di-Tone, November 10). Previously, the pair collaborated on albums with lyrics based on poems by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and Nikki Giovanni; the new record includes four songs with words by Giovanni in addition to nine originals by Rosen. Jenkins, a Brooklyn girl who sang in her family’s church choir and has gone on to perform on Broadway and toured in DREAMGIRLS, and Rosen, a Jewish guitarist and composer from the South Side of Chicago who wrote the book THE SOUTH SIDE: THE RACIAL TRANSFORMATION OF AN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOOD, make an unusual but thrilling pair, combining for an infectious sound that grabs you and never lets go, mixing jazz, R&B, blues, cabaret, Americana, and soul in sweet ways. The expert band adds tasty flourishes, particularly Andrew Sterman on flute, saxophone, and clarinet, Richie Vitale on trumpet and fluegelhorn, and Mark Sherman on vibraphone and percussion.
Jenkins, who has quite a set of pipes, sums up the album on the finale, “Love of Song,” in which she sings, “There are songs that will move you / And songs that you move to / And prayer songs / And moon songs / Love songs / Birth songs / We fill the earth with songs,” which gets right to the point – THE ACHE OF POSSIBILITY is filled with the love of song. On an earlier tune, “I Need You,” Jenkins and Rosen share the vocals, with Jenkins proclaiming, “I need you / Like pleasure needs pain,” and Rosen responding, “I need you / Like confession needs sin.” Rosen himself takes over lead vocals for the shuffling “The Middle-Class (Used to Be) Blues,” in which he declares, “My shoes need soles / And my soul needs love / But my love needs money like a cold hand needs a glove / So it’s shoes or love, I guess I gotta choose.” The album gets political several times, including in the superb title track, in which Jenkins explains in a sometimes whispery voice, “Phones are tapped to ease our mind / Suddenly torture’s redefined / Terror threats to scare us blind / And still another child gets left behind.” Jenkins and Rosen make quite a pair; these Joe’s Pub shows are indeed filled with limitless possibility.
KEN FRANCKLING’S JAZZ NOTES, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2009 - Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen, The Ache of Possibility (Di-Tone)
This is an interesting, genre-defying project—that sounds like the principals got caught in a vortex between jazz and folk concerts and festivals. Yet The Ache of Possibility is the latest effort by Broadway singer Capathia Jenkins and guitarist/songwriter Louis Rosen, whose biting lyrics contain more of a folk-style message than we usually hear in a jazz context. Parts are reminiscent of 1960’s Freedom Now Suite and and 1961’s The Real Ambassadors recordings. The title track lambastes America’s political climate post 9/11 but also celebrates the hope (“the ache of possibility”) offered by the Obama presidency. Rosen’s lyrics on “The Middle-Class (Used-To-Be) Blues” cleverly take a look at today’s economic mess - (“My shoes need soles / And my soul needs love / But my love needs money like a cold hand needs a glove” etc., etc., etc. It’s not all political. There are also tracks about love and redemption, four of which are poems by Nikki Giovanni that are set to music. The jazz elements in this ambitious project are very good as well. This is a November 10 release.
Posted by Ken Franckling at 7:32 PM, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. Ken Franckling is a veteran jazz journalist and freelance photographer specializing in music photography.
THE JAZZ & BLUES REPORT.com
CAPATHIA JENKINS/LOUIS ROSEN
The Ache of Possibility
Ron Weinstock, April 26, 2010
Songwriter Louis Rosen and actress Capathia Jenkins may have formed what superficially looks like a surprising partnership, but the pair has drawn attention with their recordings, "South Side Stories," a song-cycle by Rosen, and "One Ounce of Truth," a mix of jazz, blues, soul, pop and more based on the words of the famed African-American, writer and poet, Nikki Giovanni. They have a new release on Di-Tone, "The Ache of Possibility." It is comprised of mostly Rosen originals along with several more pieces where he has set the words of Nikki Giovanni to music.
The tone is set with "How You Gonna Save 'Em?," with Nikki Giovanni's words "How you gonna save them, if they can't learn how to pray/ give "em a song I guess/to chase those blues away," as Capathia belts out the words set against a bluesy backing with solid horn support. The backing core is Rob Moose on electric guitar, Dave Phillips on electric bass, Gary Seligson drums with Louis playing acoustic guitar, and others adding musical color such as Andrew Sterman on sax and Glenn Drewes on trumpet. On the title track they provide a jazzy setting. Rosen's "I want to Live to Love You," is a marvelous folk-tinged love song with nice interaction between Rosen's acoustic guitar and Moose's electric playing as Capathia achingly delivers the lyric of yearning.
The title track opens with Phillips on acoustic bass as Capathia sings about a world gone wrong as she pleads for us to make it better also, seeing the ache of possibility and lift our voices to overcome the aches of disappointment with horns, marimba and violin providing a jazzy flavor here. Louis takes a slightly gruff, almost talking, vocal with Moose joining for an acoustic guitar duet with rhythm, "The Middle Class (Used to Be) Blues," reciting a litany of things that have gone down as rent's not paid, his shoes need soles, and his IRA has gone RIP. Moose turns to violin behind Capathia for "Winter Daze," a dreaming song about floating through winter with hard times with a nice sax break. Nikki Giovanni's poem on conservation, "Love In Short Supply," is given a lively New Orleans R&Bflavor while the setting for Giovanni's "Choices" evokes Van Morrison as Capathia delivers the message, "If I can't do what I want to do then my job is to not do what I don't want to do," with Drewes adding muted trumpet and Mark Sherman adding a crystalline vibraphone solo.
Rosen is himself a capable lyricist as on his vocal duet with Capathia, "I Need You." "I need you/ like a seed needs the rain/ Love I need you/ Like pleasure needs pain?" as Sterman plays clarinet here and Moose adds violin. Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen make some marvelous music together. Her stage-experienced voice can be powerful, yet she also expressed the aches and vulnerabilities we all feel so convincingly. Rosen has set the wonderful uplifting poetry of Nikki Giovanni as well as his own words in varied and lively musical settings that are fused with soulful blues feeling and a jazz sensibility. "The Ache of Possibility" is available along with their earlier CD at http://www.louisrosen.com/louis_store, and from cdbaby and amazon and downloadable at i-tunes, amazon, cdbaby and other sources. Ron Weinstock
TOWN & VILLAGE, NYC
CD Review by Barry Bassis, December 10, 2009
The outstanding singer Capathia Jenkins and songwriter/guitarist and arranger Louis Rosen are the most intriguing duo around. They recently appeared at Joe's Pub to celebrate the release of their third CD, The Ache of Possibility (Di-tone.)
...The new album has four settings of poems by Nikki Giovanni and eight with music and lyrics by Rosen. The subject matter is a mix of politics and love songs, not the moon-June variety but with a more lived-in quality. Rosen puts over his painful but witty "The Middle-Class (Used To Be) Blues, a song that recalls Tom Lehrer's satirical work from the '60s. Jenkins is in her element in the romantic tunes such as "I Want to Live to Love You" and "Love in Short Supply." Whether setting Giovanni's verse or his own lyrics, Rosen's music fits; using a range of influences from Broadway, pop, soul, folk and blues.
If they can keep putting out releases on this level, I will be glad to keep listening….
WHITE PEOPLE MUSIC - Used to be in the Middle Class Blues
November 9th, 2009 by admin
Capathia Jenkins & Louis Rosen have done it again. This time their third album, The Ache of Possibility, which is slated for a NOVEMBER 2009 release on the Di-Tone label includes 12 new songs, 8 with music and words by Louis, and four with music by Louis and words by the terrific poet Nikki Giovanni.
New York Readers: The Ache of Possibility’s release will coincide with a four-show run at Joe’s Pub. Seriously, go hear them live, you will not be disappointed.