I've had a chance to listen to recent CDs that have come in from various chanteuses and the music has been truly rewarding.
Barbara Carroll is one of the true legends in jazz and her octogenarian years are being spent keeping an amazingly busy schedule. On Sunday afternoons she holds court at The Algonquin with Jay Leonhart and on week nights she has been appearing at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola with her trio and an occasional guest star. Out of the latter stints has come her latest CD dubbed Something To Live For on the Harbinger label. The live session, produced by Todd Barkan, features clarinetist Ken Peplowski and was recorded last December.
Included in Barbara Carroll's cornucopia of talent is an astute penchant for material. I still recall one of the most magical cabaret evenings I've ever spent listening to her perform "Is There Anything Better Than Dancing" from the flop show "Nick and Nora." A more sophisticated tune I've never heard and that night at The Carlyle I was transfixed. Unfortunately she has, for whatever reason, still not recorded it. But on the present CD she once again displays her splendid taste playing and singing tunes from such A-teams as Ellinton-Strayhorn ("Something To Live For"), Comden-Green ("Lonely Town"), Coleman-Leigh ("I Wanna be Yours") and Styne-Sondheim ("All I Need Is The Girl").
A new face in the crowd is that of lovely Gabriele Tranchina, an international talent, who performs selections in six languages on her debut CD for the Jazzheads label. The German-born singer has a Parisian background and focuses on Brazilian music in this outing titled "A Song Of Love's Color." This composition, along with several others was penned by her husband pianist/arranger Joe Vincent Tranchina. The multicultural atmosphere is nicely buoyed by veterans Santi Debriano on bass and Bobby Sanabria on percussion. Gabriele performs with intriguing nuance and focused aplomb. We hope to see her at upcoming international festivals where she is surely headed.
Arriving next month is Monica Mancini's new Concord album I've loved These Days produced by Phil Ramone. Mancini performs music originally recorded by artists who appear with her in the present session. The list is impressive: Jackson Browne, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Felix Cavaliere (from The Young Rascals) and Take 6.
A double-Grammy nominee, Mancini has gathered the aforementioned stars in this retrospective of classic '60s songs which had a profound impact on her formative musical years. The result is a unique achievement and a tribute to the tradition of recording collaboration. Multi-Grammy winner Jorge Calandrelli conducts the orchestra does the arranging. Favorite moment: Stevie Wonder's scintillating harmonica solo on "Blame It On The Sun."