326

Roberta Gambarini: Easy to Love

By

Sign in to view read count
With all due caution about overstatement, let me say that I don't know of a better pure jazz vocalist than Roberta Gambarini. She shows us all that the art of jazz singing is alive and well. During the past few years she has become almost a cult figure, thrilling live international audiences, becoming the subject of enthusiastic discussions on various internet jazz chat forums, and being hailed by numerous insiders as perhaps today's finest young jazz singer. Gambarini is now signed, and the recording that everyone has been waiting for is finally here.

Perhaps the first thing one notes on Easy to Love is Gambarani's outstanding versatility and near-flawless pitch. She swings on the up-tempo numbers, she's convincing with the blues, and she shows vulnerability and ease with slow tempos. Her voice has a warm, velvet quality, her time and rhythm are as precise as anyone who ever sang a note, and unlike so many jazz singers, she interprets lyrics well. You hear every syllable and you understand the meaning behind the words, in a way that's reminiscent of the young Carmen McRae.

Most of the fourteen selections were also arranged by the vocalist, and each is a gem. For example, if a singer ever "owned a song, Gambarini owns the standard "On the Sunny Side of the Street. She models her approach after Dizzy Gillespie's version on his 1957 Sunny Side Up recording, where he worked with the two Sonnys (Stitt and Rollins). Using scat syllables (and an occasional recognizable word), she easily maneuvers through the minefield of Stitt's intricate tenor sax flights. In an era when too many so-called jazz singers use scatting as a disposable display of technical accomplishment (rather than as a channel of communication), it is a delight to hear Gambarini—the real McCoy, the "scat's meow.

She often sings songs by Benny Carter, who was her mentor and friend. For this recording Gambarini included a very tender version of his "Only Trust Your Heart. Speaking of ballads, her merging of the two Gershwin "Porgy songs ("I's Your Woman and "I Loves You Porgy ), accompanied only by piano and the barest whisper of brushes, is sublime. Bill Evans' sad lament "Two Lonely People is seldom performed as a vocal, but Gambarini's six-minute version, accompanied by pianist Tamir Hendelman's elegant explorations, is a worthy addition to the small canon. James Moody's tenor and vocal on the bop anthem "Centerpiece is delightful; Gambarini's scat duet with Moody is priceless.

You can judge a singer by the accompanists she keeps, and Gambarini works with and keeps only the best. It just doesn't get any better than this: James Moody, Tamir Hendelman, Gerald Clayton, John Clayton, Chuck Berghofer, Willie Jones and Joe LaBarbera. This is a wonderful jazz vocal album.


Track Listing: Easy To Love; Only Trust Your Heart; Lover Man; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Porgy, I's Your Woman Now/I Loves You, Porgy; Lover Come Back To Me; The Two Lonely People; Centerpiece; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; No More Blues; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes/All The Things You Are; Too Late Now; Multi-Colored Blues; Monk's Prayer/Looking Back.

Personnel: Roberta Gambarini: vocals; James Moody: tenor sax, vocal; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Gerald Clayton: piano; John Clayton: bass; Chuck Berghoffer: bass; Willie Jones III: drums; Joe La Barbera: drums.

Title: Easy To Love | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: KOCH International Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "B'shnorkestra: Global Concertos" CD/LP/Track Review B'shnorkestra: Global Concertos
by Paul Rauch
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "Aural Vertigo" CD/LP/Track Review Aural Vertigo
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: July 9, 2017
Read "Allison Philips Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Allison Philips Trio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Playing the 60s" CD/LP/Track Review Playing the 60s
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971" CD/LP/Track Review Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.