Last year, cellist Kelsey Lu released her debut album Blood, one of the most criminally underrated records of 2019. Certifying her as an experimental-pop savant, she went on to appear on Blood Orange’s album Angel’s Pulse, and has assisted artists as disparate as Florence + The Machine and Oneohtrix Point Never. At her heart, though, she’s a classical artist well-versed in jazz and traditional composition.
As such, she was a natural pick for New York’s experimental-jazz ensemble Onyx Collective when they needed a vocalist for their rendition of “Where or When,” a jazz standard popularized by the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms. The track sounds like a work made by collaborators completely on the same page. Lu’s voice seems to flit in and out of existence, powerful and guttural, hovering just above strings that mimic the song of sirens. It’s alluringly haunting, technically harmonious and uncompromising in its arrangement.
Onyx Collective’s album, Manhattan Special: Onyx Collective Plays Rodgers & Hart / Rodgers & Hammerstein, is being released soon via TMWRK Records. As the name might imply, the album is made up of Onyx Collective’s takes on jazz songs written by the seminal songwriters who brought us The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and “My Funny Valentine,” popularized by Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra. The group previously shared their version of “Valentine” featuring Nick Hakim.
You can check out “Where or When” below.
“Where or When” Single Art