Local audiences know Gabrielle Agachiko from her charismatic, searing live performances — going back to Boston Rock Opera’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” (the title role!) and rock band the Atom Said, and, more recently, this septet, comprising a handful of ringers from the local jazz scene. It began as a Nina Simone tribute (the heart-stopping “Four Women” is included here), but soon expanded to a variety of blues, jazz, pop, and Agachiko originals. What’s exciting about this project is not just Agachiko’s vocal performances (powered by a clear, powerful instrument, knife-sharp diction, and a touch of warm vibrato), but the fully realized conception. The Either/Orchestra’s Russ Gershon wrote the arrangements, which put the flute of Ken Field (Revolutionary Snake Ensemble) on top of Gershon’s tenor and Scott Getchell’s trumpet. Their agile, piquant backing choruses, obbligatos, and solos are the perfect complement to Agachiko’s emotional explorations. So check the slight dissonant tension between their backgrounds and the vocal line in “Blue Winter,” their agitated interplay on the mother-in-law kiss-off “Your Mama,” or Getchell’s beautifully poised solo on the standard “Angel Eyes.” And then there’s Agachiko herself — delivering satirical wit in “Words,” risking over-the-top confession in “Unlovable,” and finally affirming all in the title track. Yes to this one. (Out July 9)
ESSENTIAL “Blue Winter”
Agachiko plays a CD release party at the Accurate Records studio, 343 Medford St., Somerville, on July 13 at 8:30 p.m.
Jon Garelick can be reached at email@example.com.