Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Naama Gheber: Dearly Beloved


Naama Gheber: Dearly Beloved


Sign in to view read count
Naama Gheber: Dearly Beloved
There's much to admire in this debut from New York-based Israeli vocalist Naama Gheber. With a highly developed sense of phrasing built on pitch-perfect delivery and some tasteful back-end vibrato, an eye and ear for fine golden-age material, sharp navigational skills, and a knack for picking the perfect sidemen, her first flight garners attention in all the right ways.

A fan and student of music from the '20s, '30s and '40s, Gheber proves to be comfortably creative working through gems of yesteryear spruced up for today. Opening on "Dearly Beloved," she immediately establishes herself as a deft interpreter. Comfortably moving across a vacillating 5/4-to-4/4 scenario with open harmonic avenues, Gheber makes a strong impression without ever having to push. Add to that some sterling work from guest vibraphonist Steve Nelson and the tasteful rhythm section of pianist Ray Gallon, bassist David Wong and drummer Aaron Kimmel, and you have a complete recipe for success. Moving from Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern territory to Cole Porter's portfolio, Gheber deals in low-level heat over Kimmel's slow-flow tom groove on "So in Love." As a back-to-back introduction to a singer's work, it can't get much better than these two tracks.

Stepping beyond those points, Gheber remains in her glory in a variety of smart settings. "This Time the Dream's on Me" works a sly metric wrinkle into the fabric of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's designs; "You Stepped Out of a Dream" plays to its title by moving in and out of rubato chimera; "Just Squeeze Me" delivers an Ellington double by interpolating touches of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" into the scenery; and the blended "Good Night My Love (Layla Tov)" allows child-friendly attachments to brush up against an air of mature life with the presence of nostalgic sentiments. Those four tracks, along with a number of others, speak not only to Gheber's crafty architectural skills, but also to her kinship with co-arranger Gallon.

While Gheber is the rightful star of her own show, her band mates make their presence felt with more than foundational work. The bright "'S Wonderful" is notable for solo stands from Gallon and Kimmel; Wong wows with his low-end graces on "This Time the Dream's on Me"; and Nelson shines on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," among others. With solid direction, beautiful arrangements, sterling support, and nary a musical misstep in sight, Gheber's got everything going for her here. Dearly Beloved is simply delightful.

Track Listing

Dearly Beloved; So in Love; 'S Wonderful; Since I Fell for You; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Get Out of Town; This Time the Dream's on Me; You Stepped Out of a Dream; What's New; Just Squeeze Me; Sometimes I'm Happy; Good Night My Love (Layla Tov).


Additional Instrumentation

Steve Nelson, vibraphone (tracks 1, 5, 8, 10, 12); Ray Gallon, piano; David Wong, bass; Aaron Kimmel, drums.

Album information

Title: Dearly Beloved | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Cellar Music

< Previous
Nearly Blue



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Garza / Fawcett / Wojtowicz
Dave Douglas
Friends & Neighbors


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.