In Your Own Sweet Way is an album of gentle ripples reaching for waves in its embrace of Latin accents. Schell’s piano, flute, and vocals are all equally at home on the album.

Saphu Records – SCD-0037

Gaea Schell (flute, piano, and vocals); Jordan Samuels (guitar); John Wiitala (bass); Greg Wyser-Pratte (drums); Carlos Caro (percussion on Cava dell’Isola, El Picacho, and Luna Plateada); Marco Diaz (trumpet and piano on El Pichacho).

Jazz is world music, and the lines between nationalities, borders, and influences fade between notes and chords. On this beautiful album, Gaea Schell hasn’t made a specific Bossa Nova album. Rather, she has applied those bright and dynamic Latin music elements to her soft and subtle approach in an organic mix.

In Your Own Sweet Way is an album of gentle ripples reaching for waves in its embrace of Latin accents. Schell’s piano, flute, and vocals are all equally at home on the album.

In the opener that sets the tone for the album, Cava dell’Isola, Schell’s flute starts more like a sonata or etude full of breathy intimation before guitar and piano, and drums slide into the song and turn it into a full Latin romp—Jordan Samuels’s guitar solo swings without losing its Bossa Nova stance. When Schell’s flute returns, it embraces the song’s full thrust.

The band approaches Arnheim, Daniels, and Tobias’ standard, Sweet and Lovely, with nuance. The drums and piano move along in a paired and brisk pace as the piano melody and solo paint a picture of a happy walk on a Sunny day as the guitar adds a splash of extra sunshine to the mix.

Greg Wyser-Pratte’s drums cascade throughout the song but don’t overstay their welcome. The piano starts with a central figure but dances from that into boundary-less jazz and exciting chromatic runs. The song feels like a bit of Jazz sunshine.

On the standard, It Had to Be You, disparate elements touch the rhythm and carry into some of the staccato notes she sings. This version steps along, capped by beautiful guitar and piano solos. Schell’s piano makes the song swing, and it seems like her voice sets the scene for the instruments to carry the song rather than making it a vocal showcase.

Her more staccato approach breaks from the traditional legato phrasing in this song but fits the colors It Had to Be You is given here.

Like many songs on the album, Summer Sea anchors on its root chord and paints a picture of rain and air in living and gentle waves. Reflecting on the natural world inspires so much of this album. This song also features a beautiful interplay between guitar and piano.

The supple drums add atmosphere to this trip to the seashore and keep the music moving without sacrificing its soft lilt.

Schell adds her lyrics to Dave Brubeck’s gorgeous In Your Own Sweet Way melody. Her voice is lovely, and she sings with the piece adding a new accent to the song. Wiitala’s bass has a beautiful, laid-back solo fitting the music and is supported by atmospheric drumming.

Schell’s piano energy without trying to imitate his phrasing. Her turns of musical phrases are lovely as her glissando notes bubble out of her solo. Where Brubeck’s original is essentially a piano sonata, this is straight-ahead jazz.

Luna Plateada is a slowed-down tango with a beautiful guitar line that moves like a bougainvillea across the melody’s top. The rest of the band supports the guitar’s supple and romantic melody lines. Samuel’s guitar is evocative, and Schell’s piano bubbles out from under it and continues the song’s growth across its garden wall.

Carlos Caro’s percussion gives the song a true heartbeat. As she does on many songs on this album, Schell drops her piano for a poignant flute solo that carries the music along. Her flutes’ tone matches this song beautifully.

Danza Nocturna De Flores is a beautiful piano etude that concentrates so much of Schell’s piano playing into this graceful dance. Un Sueno de la Noche follows the suite of beautiful and elegant music.

In Your Own Sweet Way is as sun-touched and emotional as the Latin music from which it draws, yet quiet and reflective; Gaea Schell’s music on In Your Own Sweet Way doesn’t distinguish between her more straight-ahead jazz originals, standards, and the Latin musical lexicon from which her songs borrow and draw a straight line down the center of it all.

It’s all an expression of music played with focus and sensitivity from the heart.