Gail Wynter's My Shining Hour
and Jackie Allen's Which?
precede Barbara Sfraga’s addition to the Naxos Jazz Vocal Jazz coffers. All of these vocal collections have their charm. All are quite different.
Sfraga begins her disc in a most unorthodox way: by setting the Jerry Lee Lewis chestnut, “Great Balls of Fire” in a quasi blues, jazz, rock setting that while quite effective, never really reaches the mark. She does better with the coupling of “Angel Eyes” and the Clapton Classic “Sunshine Of Your Love” where John Hebert lays down a steady propelling pulse under an insinuating Bruce Saunders guitar. This is the sexiest piece on a sexy disc. “Good Morning Heartache” is as much a reinvention of the Holiday standard as it is a cover. She sings in an angular fashion over Saunders’ weaving guitar in a lightly rocking rhythm.
Sfraga’s voice is a sensuous amalgam that migrates from a low croon to a light as a feather breeze. Her style is immediately sensual, a super mood maker. She purrs with dense intent throughout this collection. A really halting tone.
The highlights of this disc are the pieces on which ballademeister Fred Hersch provides piano support. Check out the most fine “Miss Harper goes to the Bizarre," “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was,” and “I’ll Call You.” This is what makes an already decent disc truly worth while. Mark Murphy shows up for a duet with Sfraga on “I’ll Call You.”
All in all, Barbara Sfraga offers the greatest sex appeal in the Naxos Jazz cabinet. Not better than the Wynters or Allen discs, just sexier.
Personnel: Barbara Sfraga: Vocals; Bruce Sanders;: Guitars; David Berkman: Piano; John Hebert: Bass; Eric
Halvorson: Drums; Fred Hersch: Piano; Mark Murphy: Vocals.