Her teachers early on included Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Sal Mosca, Janet Lawson, and Jay Clayton. No wonder she’s so unique.
Barbara Sfraga is relatively new on the scene. The vocalist began leading her own band in 1990. Under The Moon is her second album. She proved on What A Thrill (Naxos) that her spontaneous and eclectic approach to jazz would draw from traditional blues roots as well as from more creative directions.
With her four-piece contemporary band on Under The Moon, Sfraga interprets eight standards, one pop hit, and one original. She’s reinvented each of the songs in her own fashion. The clarity of her voice combines with the band’s elegant timbre to produce an overall sound that any listener can appreciate. Guitar, drum set, congas, and a confident Ella Fitzgerald kind of vocal enthusiasm earn the band and singer high marks. Only the raspy echoes of the bass stand out as unsuitable for the group’s blend. This is particularly evident during the bass solo on “Prelude to a Kiss.”
Sfraga’s “Never Walk Away” combines a New Orleans second line shuffle with her forward-leaning vocal edge. Jazz has got to grow, and this artist is inclined to play a key role in that process. Her program affords the listener ample amounts of what we look for in a vocalist. Let’s face it. Everybody has a strong opinion when it comes to singers. You either like what you hear or you shut it out. As Sfraga interprets Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand” with bass accompaniment, she levitates you into a solemn temple, where everyone prays with his eyes closed. As she delivers “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” in 5/4 time, she brings down our jazz mentors from the balcony to share in the celebration.
With “You’ve Changed,” Sfraga summarizes her method. Emotions are somewhat in check, and a creative sharing takes place; a sharing that brings the whole ensemble together. The singer reveals her soulful feelings, while creating a program filled with fine art.
Visit Sfraga's artist page at A440 Music for audio samples and her own web site for the complete liner notes.
Personnel: Barbara Sfraga- vocals; John McLean- guitars; Paul Wertico- drums; Christopher Dean Sullivan- bass; Kevin Patrick- percussion.