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Largely unknown beyond the confines of metropolitan Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, Gina Roché finally has overcome her fears, as expressed in Dawning Of A New Way, to claim the attention she deserves as an individualistic and compelling singer in a understated sort of way. It is appropriate that Roché has chosen to express herself to a large extent through Brazilian tunes on her premiere album. Her timbre, range, depth of meaning and respect for accompanying instrumentalists reflect those of the best-known Brazilian singers like Astrud Gilberto or Dori Caymmi. Indeed, Roché shows her respect for the genre by singing Jobim's Brígas Nunca Maís in Portuguese to the accompaniment of master guitarist Romero Lubambo.
Roché has chosen to split her album into two genres, Lubambo and bassist Chico Huff working with her on the Latin tunes while pianist Jim Ridl and bassist Tim Lekan appear on the standards. Despite the split, the project is unified by Roché's sultry and subtle voice, lowering to its seeming lowest possibilities before rising two octaves in an expression of exhilaration.
Allowing her accompanists to shine, Roché sometimes joins them as yet another instrumentalist as she sings wordlessly before unexpectedly breaking out into words as a fulfillment of the tune. As the feeling of the tunes dictate, Roché improvises in purrs or prods or growls or cries or whispers or clipped words or roundly formed extended tones that invest the songs with emotional content.
The instrumentalists on the album are uniformly excellent, and singling them out would detract from Roché's glowing presence. Yet drummer Allison Miller, lately working with Rachel Z in her tribute to Wayne Shorter and appearing on every track, provides the consistency to the project, varying the rhythm from the rumbling portent of "Summertime" to the New Orleans street march beat of "No More Blues."
Presenting four new compositions with personal importance to Roché, Dawning Of A New Way reveals a heretofore hidden talent who finally has come into her own as a sensitive interpreter of song and a continuation in the long line of singers who have made their sounds extensions of their personalities.
Track Listing: Dawning Of A New Way, Symptoms Of A Greater Love, Let Your Dreams Become Reality, Summertime, The Gift Of We, Tenderly, Br
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.