Jazz singer Judi Silvano is the wife of tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano and she has appeared on some of his Blue Note albums, including Viva Caruso (2002), Celebrating Sinatra (1996) and Universal Language (1992), with a rather operatic vocalese style.
Silvano began recording under her own name on Blue Note with Vocalese (1996) and then with her own JSL Label which has released several albums including Songs I Wrote or Wish I Wrote (2000), Sound Garden: Spirit Music (2004) and Sound Garden: Celestial Voices (2005). Somewhere along the way Silvano switched to a straight vocal style without either vocalese or perhaps only a dab of scat..
Women's Work: Live at Sweet Rhythm is based on a concept to present songs written by women and presented by an all femme group. This album has been carefully planned, and represents a concept of femininity in jazz writing and performing, and is well-realized in both planning and execution. The songs are composed by writers including Mary Lou Williams, Abbey Lincoln, Sheila Jordan and Carla Bley, plus two Silvano originals and one from pianist Janice Friedman.
Of the players, and they are all good, it's Friedman who provides the cement that really holds this group together with her solos, comping and altogether solid playing. Allison Miller, who plays in many different genres, is a creative drummer.
Recorded live at Sweet Rhythm (formerly known as Sweet Basil), the opening tune, Silvano's "Bougainvillea" has appeared elsewhere in her discography. Williams' "Pretty Eyed Baby" is reminiscent of a tune that Nat King Cole might have recorded with his trio and is a fine jump composition. Blossom Dearie's "Inside A Silent Tear" was heavily recorded during the 1970s, and Meredith D'Ambrosio's "Why Do I Still Dream of You" is a touching ballad, and let's face itwhen have you ever heard any jazz vocalist cover D'Ambrosio's work?
Likewise, Silvano covers Lincoln's "Not to Worry," Jordan's autobiographical "Ballad for Miles" and Bley's humorous "Can't Get My Motor to Start." She concludes with Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues," a song that defined Dinah Washington's 1950s output. Did Silvano take too much of a chance here? Well, it doesn't beat out either Smith or Washington's version but it elongates the song into a pleasing six minutes of pleasure.
Women's Work: Live at Sweet Rhythm is the best of Silvano's post-millennium albums. It presents a hardworking quartet making fine music so that whether in tribute or not, these eleven tracks present a well-developed and fun approach to a conceptual overlay.
Personnel: Judi Silvano: voice; Janice Friedman: piano; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Allison Miller: drums.