"Bidi Dworkin's new album is a Beautiful Souvenir in itself." – Tony Frankel, November 26, 2020, Stage and Cinema
So, you probably know that Stage and Cinema receives hundreds of albums a month to review, and many more since COVID kept CDs from arriving in our snail-mailbox. We have decided therefore to review only those that knock our socks off on the first hearing. Welcome to vocalist Bidi Dworkin’s homegrown album that spans folk to standards, and includes protest songs such as “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” How awesome is this jazz album? I’m on my third listen in a row. The New Englander has an earthy innocence with distinctive vocals that are free of plasticity and pretention. What a relief! Soothing yet invigorating, her generous 12-track album released last May, Beautiful Souvenirs, offers a package that I recommend for any time of day.
Listen as she seamlessly goes from updating standards (“You Don’t Know What Love Is” gets an up-tempo treatment to folk) and the way she celebrates Joni Mitchell’s “Morgantown” in the singer/songwriter’s style from the 60s, a wise decision instead of the many covers from artists who feel they must reinterpret Mitchell’s work in order to honor the Canadian composer (on a side note, check out Joni’s brand new anthology of previously unreleased yumminess). Dworkin’s warm tone (“My Heart Sings” is dreamy) melts right in with her trio. On “Why Try to Change Me Now,” pianist Eric Hangen offers deliciously supportive harmonics while Dworkin sings with a sort of gentle rusticity; they reminded me of the great Monica Zetterlund and Bill Evans on the album Waltz for Debby. Steve Cady is sweetly smooth in “Alone Together,” and Claire Arenius propels her drums on “Hum Drum Blues.” Oh, and a shout-out to engineer Benjamin J. Arrindell at Old Mill Road Recording for the superb clarity.
Singer Bidi Dworkin finds "Beautiful Souvenirs" in jazz
"Beautiful Souvenirs” reveals a singer with a taste for musical adventure following her own path to musical truths. Dworkin has a pretty voice and there are times when her singing is pure magic. Bidi Dworkin’s freshman recording shows a lot of promise. Integrating jazz sensibilities into an essentially folk-pop voice can take a long time to mature. With “Beautiful Souvenirs” she is well on her way.
– Art Edelmstein, Arts Correspondent, Rutland Herald, June 10, 2020
Some Sweet Words – Suzanne Lorge
"While the pandemic rages on, three new standards releases offer some happy diversion: Vermont-based vocalist Bidi Dworkin recently launched her debut, Beautiful Souvenirs (Twenty Two Productions), a showcase for her sparkling voice at its finest, with arrangements by jazz legend Jay Clayton; singer Noa Levy joins bassist Shimpei Ogawa on You, Me and Cole (Belle Records), 10 expertly rendered selections by musical mastermind Cole Porter; and Italian singer Mafalda Minnozzi, a leading interpreter of Brazilian jazz, just released Sensorial: Portraits in Bossa & Jazz (Mama Produções Artísticas),a collection of seductive airs by beloved Brazilian composers."collection of seductive airs by beloved Brazilian composers.
"A showcase for her sparkling voice at its finest"
– NYC Jazz Record
"Ms. Dworkin has a warm and distinctive voice...
always swings." – Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene
"Beautiful Souvenirs is the long overdue recording debut of Bidi Dworkin. She was a folk singer-guitarist while going to school, performing at festivals and coffee houses in the Rhode Island area. She spent time living in New York as a modern dancer, settled in Vermont, and has since worked as a teacher, an interim cantor, and a yoga teacher. She always sang and loved jazz but only recently has been pursuing it on a more serious level.
On Beautiful Souvenirs, Bidi Dworkin is joined by pianist Eric Hangen, bassist Steve Cody, and drummer Claire Arenius. Other than Joni Mitchell’s “Morning Morgantown” (which she used to sing earlier in life), her repertoire is comprised of veteran jazz standards, all of which she manages to make her own. Ms. Dworkin has a warm and distinctive voice, is not shy to take chances including taking much of a medium-tempo “Alone Together” as a duet with bassist Cody, scats well, digs into the lyrics of many of the songs, and always swings. Among the highlights are a haunting “How My Heart Sings,” “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” “Why Try To Change Me Now,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” and a surprisingly cooking rendition of “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”
Beautiful Souvenirs...is a fine debut which makes one look forward to an encore by Bidi Dworkin."
"Delving into the Great American Songbook, Vermont-based vocalist Bidi Dworkin has assembled a fine selection of timeless and always timely tunes on her 2020 album, her debut release, Beautiful Souvenirs.
The CD is well packaged and the insightful liner notes by Bidi shine a light on her continued fascination with classic jazz vocal music and folk-based pop. A definite highlight on this breezy 54-minute album is Bidi's cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1966 folk music classic “Morning Morgantown”. The fact that many of these song favorites were written decades before Bidi was even born shows her clear reverence for chestnuts from 20th-century pop and jazz music history. Speaking about the choice of music on her album, Bidi says, "Each of the twelve tunes on the album are simply songs that I've grown to love over the years... and a few more recently. My dad was a bandleader and played sax - he was a physician / musician. I grew up listening to certain tunes like "Softly, As In a Morning Sunrise". The setting for Bidi's elegant musical foray is a classic acoustic jazz trio sound featuring Eric Hangen (piano), Claire Arenius (drums) and Steve Cady (bass), which gives the sound even more of a timeless vibe. Recorded in picturesque Vermont, the 12-track Beautiful Souvenirs is a tastefully recorded album of ageless vocal jazz featuring the upbeat sound of Bidi Dworkin."
– Robert Silverstein, July 21, 2020, Roots Music Report
"On this debut album the proficient vocalist Bidi Dworkin brings in an all star cast of New England musicians including Eric Hangen, Steve Cady, and Claire Arenius to help flesh out these fine jazz arrangements that pull from blues and folk standards.
The very heartfelt “How My Heart Sings” starts the listen with warm keys alongside gentle singing in the very mature landscape, and “Softly, As In A Morning’s Sunrise” follows with low bass from Cady as Dworkin delivers a very expressive and playful early album highlight with some vocal scatting.
This exceptional first album also comes with insightful liner notes as Dworkin and company do a fine job of reinventing songs that the Vermont songstress adores and you likely will, too, after hearing the timeless jazz of Beautiful Souvenirs." – Tom Haugen, Take Effect