Vocalist Judi Silvano's Let Yourself Go makes me long for the day when jazz was America's popular music. If that were the case today, this disc would sell a million copies and score three or four top ten radio hits. But it's a new pop song millennium, and the jazz recordings are pushed into the back racksthe general listening public's loss; the discerning and resolute jazz fan's gain.
Silvano is probably best known for her adventurous vocalise on recordings like the Joe Lovano/Gunther Schuller record Rush Hour (Blue Note, '95), Lovano's Celebrating Sinatra (Blue Note, '97), or the more obscure but excellent Fourth World (Between the Lines, '02) by guitarist James Emery. In the past few years she's also released two first rate sets of her own, Songs I Wrote or Wish I Did (JSL Records, '00) and a duet set with the late pianist Mal Waldron, Riding a Zephyr (Soul Note, '02).
The vocalist truly let's herself go here, within the ever-malleable constraints (or are there constraints?) of some familiar time-tested standards; and she's never sounded better, freer and more ebullient in her music-making.
The set opens with the title tune, an Irving Berlin song featuring clever lyrics ("Come on get together, Let the dance floor feel your leather, Step as lightly as a feather...") and a swinging arrangement (Michael Abene) sliced through with angular piano jabs (Abene, again) and Silvano's soaring vocals, sometimes freewheeling, sometimes gorgeously controlled.
Throughout here, I'm reminded of Ella Fitzgerald's Cole Porter Songbook discs; the attitude's the same, and Judi scats all over the place, with a different, smoother flowbut a sound no less compelling than Ella's. Throw in the contemporary arrangements and more truly stellar solo slots than you can count on two handsIngrid Jensen's muted trumpet on Jerome Kern's "Why Do I Love You," Akua Dixon's cello slot and Roger Rosenberg's bass clarinet on Cole Porter's "I Love Paris," Dick Oatts' alto solo on Rodgers and Hart's "I Could Write a Book," or Dan Silverman's trombone work on "When I Fall in Love"; or Jamie Baum's alto flute turn on "Every Time We Say Goodbye."
I mentioned Ella's Cole Porter Songbook discs, but there seems a parallel between Let Youself Go and some of those marvelous Frank Sinatra albums from the fifties, too. Songs for Young Lovers , Songs for Swingin' Lovers , Come Fly With Me. As a vocal effort, it's that good; in terms of the level of artistic craftmanship all around, it's that good too.
I hesitate to single one out of such a classic set, but Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" keeps getting the repeat button treatment, with Akua Dixon's cello, a sweet and slightly frictional drag across the strings contrasting the perfect smooth flow of Silvano's voice; then cello giving way to the rich deeper tones of the bass clarinet that slinks its way in and out of Judi's cool scatting. Wonderful!
Let Yourself Go was conceived and produced as a gift from Judi Silvano for her 80-year-old mother, Miriam, so it seems fitting to use a high compliment in usage in Miriam's youth here. Judi Silvano's Let Yourself Go : It's just the cat's pajamas!
Track listing: Let Yourself Go, Let's Fall in Love, Why Do I Love You?, I'm in the Mood for Love, I Only have Eyes for You, When I Fall in Love, I Could Write a Book, I Love Paris, Our Love is Here to Stay, Goodbye, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Judi Silvanovocals; Michael Abenepiano, arrnager, conductor; Rufus reidbass; Newman Taylor-Bakerdrums; Dick Oattsalto and soprano saxophones; Ingrid Jensen trumpet and flugelhorn; Mayra Casalespercussion; Roger Rosenbergbass clarinet and baritone saxophone; Akua Dixoncello; Jamie Baumalto flute; Nita Goodgalbackground vocals.
Let Yourself Go, Let's Fall in Love, Why Do I Love You?, I'm in the
Mood for Love, I Only have Eyes for You, When I Fall in Love, I Could Write a Book, I Love Paris, Our Love
is Here to Stay, Goodbye, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye.
Judi Silvano--vocals; Michael Abene--piano, arrnager, conductor; Rufus reid--bass; Newman Taylor-Baker--drums; Dick Oatts--alto and soprano saxes; Ingrid Jensen--trumpet and flugelhorn; Mayra Casales--percussion; Roger Rosenberg--bass clarinet and baritone saxophone; Akua Dixon--cello; Jamie Baum--alto flute; Nita Goodgal--background vocals
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