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Hanka Gregušová: Universal Ancestry
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Hanka Gregušová
Hanka Gregušová
Zoznam skladieb

HANKA - vocal & producer

Shedrick Mitchell - arrangements, co-production, piano, organ

James Hurt - arrangements, co-production, piano, Fender Rhodes piano

Rodney Kendrick - piano, arrangement, co-production, arr. of BGV’s on track “Through the Fire”

David Ginyard - electric bass

Rashaan Carter - acoustic & electric bass

Taru Alexander - drums

Nathaniel Townsley - drums

Sisa Michalidesová - flute

Veronika Vitazkova - fujara

Marvin Sewell - guitars

William Barnes - electric guitar

Antoine Roney - tenor & soprano sax

Keesha Gumbs - background vocals

Terelle Tipton - background vocals
Everything important about the background of the album "Universal Ancestry" has been already said, so it is up to me to review it and I do so with extraordinary joy. When I listened to HANKA on her album “Twin Flames” (released in 2016), with Ondrej Krajňák I stated that this singer has a voice like a bell and I did not mean just the richness and deepness, but also the spiritual depth of her singing. At that time, I have wished her voice could be heard in the wide world. And today, Hanka Gregušová, a.k.a. HANKA is significantly establishing on the New York jazz scene. In the summer, she has released her new album, aptly called "Universal Ancestry." Yes, it is a congenial musical connection of diverse cultures and music genres, as well as a tribute to extraordinary personalities from jazz, soul, R&B, or gospel as well as African American singers that influenced HANKA (Phyllis Hyman, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Abbey Lincoln). Among eleven songs on the album are three Slovak folk songs for the first time ever re-arranged by American jazz musician James Hurt. The only folk song that does not move me much is “Tancuj, Tancuj” (Dance, Dance) as it feels unclear to me, but the guitar solo is great! The end of the album however literally culminates with two great Slovak folk songs, “A ja taká Dzivočka” (I Am Such A Pretty Girl) with excellent bop phrasing and imaginative tenor sax and piano solos, and a sad “Zaspievalo Vtáča“ (The Bird Has Started Singing) in which you feel true sadness with the opening of the tune with Slovak native instrument fujara. After all, HANKA showed an extraordinarily inner insight into folk music on her album “Essence” (Hevhetia, 2014). The rest of the tracks individually deserve attention as well. Already in the introductory song “All the Man That I Need” from Whitney Houston's repertoire (Grammy 1990), you can admire HANKA’s all-encompassing voice with a real soul and fresh instrumentation. “Be Grateful”, the modern gospel song written by Walter Hawkins (1978), is emotional, deep, and poetic, graded into juicy contemporary R&B. The song “Through the Fire” is tastefully arranged to pop sound (Chaka Khan, 1984). The song titled “As You Are” by Pharoah Sanders is conceived in an excellent way and has been already sung by Phyllis Hyman in 1978. I dare to say HANKA surpasses her interpretation. She also interprets in a supreme way the iconic song “Someday We´ll All Be Free” written by Donny Hathaway (1973), and only with piano accompaniment, where her singing could thus stand out in full force, and she gives this song an extra passion with gospel interpretation. In the song “Throw it Away” (Abbey Lincoln, 1995) we can hear dramatic piano sounds, sounding something like ambient, but raw and dirty, and yet the intoxicating blues mood is not getting lost. HANKA and her musicians can also swing harder than hard (in standard “Them There Eyes”), and in McCoy Tyner's “In Search of My Heart” (originally sung by Phyllis Hyman, 1982) it is literally a jazz eruption, which also includes a captivating saxophone solo. HANKA and everyone involved, you have my respect!
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