How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Linda Ciofalo's Sun Set has connected all the dots to make for an impressive listening experience. Starting with a conceptsongs with the word "sun" in the title, or sun-relatedthe package offers an eclectic collection of selections, innovative arrangements and performances by an engaging vocalist with major chops and choice instrumentalists: John di Martino (piano), John Hart (guitar), Marcus McLaurine (bass), Joel Frahm (sax) and Matt Wilson (drums).
Ciofalo's vocal clarity is refreshing and she knows what to do with her instrument. She can deliver a ballad reading with warmth, but also has enough of an edge to swing when necessary. The opening track, "Oh! What A Beautiful Morning," features Ciofalo's vocal floating over a 6/8 tempo accompanied by Frahm's fills. On "You Took Advantage of Me," Ciofalo swings, backed only by Wilson's wonderful hand drumming, and a straightforward reading of George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun" takes us back to Beatletime. Another interesting material choice is a lovely and haunting reading of "Love Is Stronger Far Than We" from the film A Man and A Woman.
There is something to be said for every track. The players are well-attuned to each other and comprise a tight ensemble. Di Martino's piano work is outstanding; his harmonies and ability to play exactly what needs to be played behind a vocalist well on display. Frahm also delivers, wailing on his "Summertime" solo and also on "Midnight Sun." Hart has some shining moments on guitar and McLaurine's solid bass work throughout completes the picture. But, most of all, this is a vocalist's album and Ciofalo shows off her talent from start to finish. The CD bears more than one listening to discover all of its pleasurable dimensions.
Track Listing: Oh! What A Beautiful Morning; You Took Advantage Of Me; Orange Blossoms In Summertime; Here Comes The Sun; Comes Love; Love Is Stronger Far Than We; La Isla Bonita; I'll Follow The Sun; Midnight Sun; Lazy Afternoon; Blame It On The Sun; The Last Day Of Summer.
Personnel: Linda Ciofalo: vocals; John di Martino: piano; John Hart: guitar; Marcus McLaurine: bass; Joel Frahm: sax; Matt Wilson: drums.