by: Geannine Reid

Jazz with a twist, yes I would certainly qualify Brulee as exactly that. A jazz duo in nature, Julie Weiner shares the vocal duties with Doug Onstadt, the two of them team up and sing together on a few cuts, but overall alternate the vocal duties. They are joined by bassist, Tom Shader, and drummer/percussionist Chip Trombley. Guest artists include Gus Garelick on violin, Dennis Hadley on accordion, Ian Scherer on guitar, David Scott on tenor sax, Dave Zirbel on pedal steel, Jess Petty on flugelhorn, Daniel Celidore on oboe and Alec Axt lending additional percussion.

New Beginnings sports an equally balanced portion of original compositions and well-chosen standards and secular hits. A beautiful original, “Miracle of Love” is a tender and introspective piece that highlights the beautiful aspects of Weiner’s vocal qualities. While “Perfectly Flawed” is a fun filled composition, filled with levity and witty lyrics, the two complement each other as they banter playfully back and forth and invite the listener to not take life so seriously.

Another example of the two eloquently creating a fun filled exploration is the medley “Tout Doucement / Ain’t Misbehavin,” transporting the listener to a sidewalk bistro vibe on the streets of parié Onstadt and Weiner are joined by guest artist Dennis Hadley who add just the right ‘twist’ the track, along with well-placed tinkling from Onstadt. Furthering the French mood Weiner tackles the endearing “Si C’est Un Oui,” her diction and articulation of the language is languid and convincing, truly a lasting track.

Adding to the unconventional path, another medley featuring a mixture of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and the Rolling Stone’s “Under My Skin,” features a blend of funk, rock and jazz which melds the two titles together as a striking concept that is light, enjoyable and quite a witty combination.

Though Brulee might not approach their choices of material conventionally, the pure delight that is created by this approach is evident by the smile it invokes on your face. Convivial, entertaining and jocund emotions will be the end result after one listen to this engaging release. New Beginnings indeed, and what a befitting start to 2012.