334

Junji Delfino: Here I Am

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Junji Delfino: Here I Am Despite singing jazz for thirty years, Here I Am is Junji Delfino's first solo recording. Delfino has notable jazz pedigree: her father, Bert Delfino, was a leading jazz figure in post World War II Manila, playing drums in a trio with pianist Fred Robles—who founded the Musicians' Guild in the Philippines—and bassist Rudy Adriano, in the clubs along Dewey Boulevard. Delfino's husband, David Gomes—a respected pianist in his own right—co-wrote two tunes and plays piano, and son Paulo contributed a song. Most of the tracks are jazz standards, and reflect the music Delfino grew up with in the Philippines and, later, in Malaysia. Delfino doesn't try to reinvent the wheel —though her arrangement of "Chega de Suadades" is original—but the strength of her voice, and its rich, mature tenor quality dominate all the songs presented here.

Paul Simon's "The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" gets things off to a gently swinging start. Delfino slows this feel-good number right down, drawing the words out. Bassist Pornchart Viriyapark and drummer Chanutr Techatana-nan lift the intro's laidback groove to a more buoyant swing by the end, and both Gomes and saxophonist David Muehsam lay down short but attractive solos. Anyone who has seen Delfino in concert will know what an outstanding scat singer she is, so her scat, which begins just as the song is fading, is something of a tease. On "Just in Time"—a minor hit for Tony Bennett over half a century ago—Delfino delivers a meatier scat improvisation in her very personal style.

Brazilian inspiration colors nearly half the songs. Delfino tackles two Antonio Carlos Jobim numbers: "Desafinado"; and a swinging "Chega de Suadades," which underlines the vocalist's adventurous spirit. Delfino's own "You and Me and the Bossa Nova" and Kurt Weil's bossa-tinged "Lost in the Stars" complete the Brazilian fiesta. On the latter, Gomes' notes tumble like the falling stars of the lyrics, and Muehsam's velvety sax sounds almost inevitably Stan Getz-like.

Delfino's voice is particularly impressive on Levant and Heyman's "Blame it on My Youth." With Muehsam's breathy sax evoking Ben Webster, Delfino delivers a heartfelt, poignant performance. The deep strength of her voice rings out on "You Don't Know What Love Is," and her sassy and swinging blues delivery recalls Ella Fitzgerald. The timeless swing of "It's Alright," and the romantic ballad "Here I Am"—both co-written with husband Gomes—sit well with the standards, and son Paulo Delfino's lovely "Little Things" is notable for Junji's sultry vocals and some fine playing from Gomes and Muehsam. This song impresses, as much lyrically as for its irresistible swing, and has the air of a jazz classic.

Junji Delfino may not be the most famous jazz singer in the world, but possesses the sort of convincing tone, keen sense of rhythm and sexiness in her voice of which the Diana Kralls and Jane Monheits can only dream. Of course, they've known this in Kuala Lumpar for years.


Track Listing: The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy); It's Alright; Lost in the Stars; Blame it on My Youth; Little Things; Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune); Just in Time; You Don't Know What Love Is; Chega de Suadade (No More Blues); You and Me and the Bossa Nova: This is All I Ask; Here I Am.

Personnel: Junji Delfino: vocals; David Gomes: piano; David Muehsam: saxophone; Pornchart "Ow" Viriyapark: acoustic bass; Hong Chanutr Techatana-nan: drums; Justin Lim: percussion.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Catalyst Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear Completely)" CD/LP/Track Review Cómo Desaparecer Completamente (How to Disappear Completely)
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Jim Crow's Tears" CD/LP/Track Review Jim Crow's Tears
by James Nadal
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "All These Hands" CD/LP/Track Review All These Hands
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "One For Cisco" CD/LP/Track Review One For Cisco
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!