June 14, 2024

Robin Bessier’s debut album, Other Side of Forever is a musical journey — a kaleidoscope of musical influences and philosophical perspectives, including five never-before recorded originals, and fresh takes on a few select jazz standards.

Bessier’s crystalline vocals are met with lush arrangements that include all six members of the band on-deck; small combos that dig deep into the groove of each song; and stripped-down impromptu pieces with piano and voice alone. The album interweaves toe-tapping swing tunes, with cool and swaying bossas, haunting ballads and effervescent sambas.

The album begins with one of Bessier’s originals, a swinging “Don’t Worry, We’ve Got You.” Reminiscent of Freddy Green, guitarist Dan Sales does serious justice with his back-up and solo.

“Jubilee” is a joy-infused piece that drops you into a Caribbean street parade. Percussionist Jeff Busch brings out all his toys on this piece, and Jay Thomas clones himself, playing both trumpet and saxophone in a call and response solo. Producer/arranger Barney McClure adds his voice to the chorus vocals here.

“God Bless the Child” is a simple, soulful rendition, featuring Barney McClure on piano (the only song he plays on in this album, that otherwise features the phenomenal Darin Clendenin on piano). Barney is a monster player in his own right, and this song is just a hint of what he is capable of. A consummate accompanist, he lays back and gives Bessier room to move.

“Right Here, Right Now” is another Bessier original, written the morning after she sang for the first time with Barney at the renowned Upstage Theater and Restaurant in Port Townsend. It should be noted that Barney had shared the title song “Other Side of Forever” with Robin during rehearsal that previous afternoon. These initial steps began the journey that became this album.

“Prelude to a Kiss” is inspired by, and dedicated to, the extraordinary jazz singer, Jan Stentz, who passed out of this physical realm much too young. Her consummate musicianship and beautiful spirit remain a constant influence.

Barney’s Latin song “Too Nice” was too fun not to include in this album. And listen for the solo section. Jay Thomas and Darin Clendenin smoke.

“Whisper” is one of Bessier’s first compositions, written before the turn of the century (sadly yes, this is true…). To hear this piece come to life under the skilled hands of these world class musicians was a dream come true.

“Better Than Anything” poses a philosophical question that has been debated for several years, but there is no debating that this version, which features the masterful Mark Ivester on drums, offers up more than your average waltz.

Daren Clendenin arranged the beautiful Herbie Hancock song “Harvest Time” in a way that honors the original instrumental version, with a seamless blending of the vocal that includes words by Herbie’s sister Jean. Darin’s sensitive playing, that manages to be light yet full of substance at the same time is exquisite, allowing Bessier the freedom to be introspective and to soar.

“The Very Thought of You,” typically done as a ballad, takes on new energy with this swinging version. The brilliant bassist Clipper Anderson, who shines throughout this album, is featured on the solo section.

“On the other side of forever…” The words and haunting melody of the title track of this album evoke a yearning for what was, for what could have been; the bittersweet impermanence of life here in the this physical plane; the illusion and fleeting nature of time; and ultimately, the value of living in and appreciating the simplicity of each moment.

  • Robin Bessier – Voice
    (Pronounced: Robin Bess-­‐ee-­‐ay’)
  • Darin Clendenin – Piano
    (Pronounced: Darin Clen-­‐den’-­‐in)
  • Clipper Anderson – Bass
  • Mark Ivester – Drums
    (Pronounced: Mark I’-­‐ves-­‐ter)
  • Jay Thomas –Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Tenor & Soprano Sax
  • Jeff Busch – Percussion
  • Dan Sales – Guitar & Banjo
  • *Mike McKinley – hand percussion on Jubilee
  • *David Lange – hand percussion on Jubilee
    (Pronounced David LANG)
  • *Barney McClure – piano on God Bless the Child; background vocals and hand percussion on Jubilee

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