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Roseanna Vitro: Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer

C. Michael Bailey By

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Roseanna Vitro is a "singer's singer." What does that mean? It means she is so excellent and still warranting much more attention. Her deep and precise alto is perfectly tuned and balanced. Her phrasing is textbook. This is what a jazz singer sounds like.

But Vitro's skill set does not stop at vocal prowess. She is also a crack arranger, programmer and music journalist. That is a wealth of grace and talent from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Vitro's projects are also well-considered and assembled. Throughout her career, she has been intelligently judicious in selecting artist and artistic themes for her recordings. This is evidenced in her more focused recordings that concentrate on a single musical source. In 1997, Vitro released the gutsy Catching Some Rays: The Music of Ray Charles (Telarc, 1997) with the support of frequent collaborator pianst Kenny Werner and tenor saxophonist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vincent.

Vitro followed that recording with Conviction: Thoughts of Bill Evans (A Records) in 2001, where she is joined by Evans sideman, bassist Eddie Gomez and progeny pianists Fred Hersch and Allen Farnham. Again, Vitro produced a well-focused and executed recording date where she re-cast several Evans instrumentals as vocal offerings. In 2011, Vitro almost scared into a Grammy Award with The Music of Randy Newman (Motema Records), where her musical daring and intelligence showed no bounds.

Vitro returns now with a collection of pieces by the late composer and arranger Clare Fischer, who is best known for his championing of all things Latin Jazz, much of which is well represented on the present Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer Vitro keeps her Randy Newman band intact for the recording.

Vitro attends to both the common and obscure of Fischer's work. The oft-covered "Morning," "Seagull" and "Pensativa" appear alongside the lesser known "Take Your Breath and Sing." Vitro's husband and producer, Paul Wickliffe pens the lyrics for the latter piece. Pianist Mark Soskin looms large on songs like "Pensativa" and "Swingin' with the Duke," while violinist Sara Caswell provides a distant, echoing continuo to all on which she contributes.

Vitro sings squarely from between Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter. Her scat chops are the most certain of any singer expelling air today. Even a bit of her home-state twang may be detected in the bluesy "Swingin' with the Duke," providing this writer a warm spot in this approaching Autumn. Honor Roseanna Vitro.

Track Listing: Morning; Web of Love (Inquiet Ac Ao); Love’s Path (Love’s Walk); Seagull (Gaviota); Swingin’ with the Duke (The Duke); Pensativa; Life’s Journey (Pavillion); Sleep My Child (Sleep Sweet Child); Take Your Breath and Sing (O Canto); I Remember Spring.

Personnel: Roseanna Vitro: vocals and arrangements; Mark Soskin: piano and arrangements; Sara Caswell: violin; Dean Johnson: bass; Tim Horner: drums; Mino Cinelu: percussion; Brett Fischer: vibraphone (9).

Title: Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Random Act Records

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