Greta Matassa is a Seattle-based jazz singer who evidently has a strong following and some valid credentials from the prestigious Earshot Magazine. This publication named Matassa as Best Female Jazz Vocalist for multiple years in the Pacific Northwest area. This album, recorded live at Tula's, the popular downtown Seattle jazz club, offers thirteen standards backed by her trio.
The session begins promisingly with "Save Your Love From Me" from the Buddy Johnson songbook (but more popularized by the Cannonball Adderley/Nancy Wilson recording) with a nice groove and feeling from the singer. We then get a series of three consecutive ballads, "The Nearness of You," "For All We Know," and "Tenderly"—all good songs, but there's a sameness about them insofar as presentation is concerned. Matassa is an adequate vocalist, and after the brief piano solo, on the first two, she attempts to re-interpret the lyrics. This technique only partially succeeds, as I kept thinking about what Betty Carter et al. would have done.
She fares better on mid-tempo songs like Jobim's adapted "Boy from Ipanema" or the bluesy Redman/Razaf "Ain't I Good to You." The inclusion of the Webster & Burke "Black Coffee," developed here into a stomping down-home blues, is surely Matassa's closer or encore. The lyrics of unrequited love are given a fine toe-tapping presentation but her vocal deteriorates into histrionics as Matassa enacts the last chorus replete with lots of melisma and vocal swoops that you might expect from an R&B diva. I'm sure that it plays out better in person than on disc.
Pianist Randy Halberstadt provides empathetic support and really gets to shine on the blues-based numbers like "Black Coffee" and "Ain't I Good to You" and bassist Clipper Anderson gets in some solo work in "I've Got You Under My Skin."
Note: this album was recorded in multi-channel SACD.
Track Listing: Save Your Love For Me, Ain't I Good To You, Night and Day, The Nearness of You, For All We Know, Tenderly, Boy From Ipanema, Black Coffee, Willow Weep for Me, Stompin' at the Savoy, Speak Low, The Shadow of Your Smile, I've Got You Under My Skin.
Personnel: Greta Matassa, vocals; Randy Halberstadt,piano; Clipper Anderson,bass; Gary Hobbs,drums
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.