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As vocalists go, Kristy Cardinali is surely one of a rare breeda singer who inhabits, as if by magic, the nooks and crannies of each and every moment of the song. With ever so subtle twists in breath and diction, Kristy (as she refers to herself, sans last name) executes such a remarkable command of melody that she can hold and bend its line to tell new stories in a breathtaking way. In doing so she joins possibly only an elite few who can tell simple tales in song with such melodic simplicity, intensity and utter mesmerism that the singer becomes the song.
Kristy is the daughter of Toronto's renowned producer, Peter Cardinali, and grew up swathed in the music that filled her home. She graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from York University, where she studied jazz history, theory and performance and was a part of a capella band, Wibijazzin,' a seminal group of singers directed by Kevin Fox, founder of vocal group, Cadence.
On My Romance, her remarkable debut record on Alma Records, she is able to create a rich palette of shades and subtle hues with soft intensity, as she tells story after story. The title song is filled with unbridled longing as Kristy sings poetically of the ultimate love. Kevin Breit (Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson) on slide guitar and Montreux Jazz Festival Piano Competition winner Robi Botos on piano create a wide canvas as Cardinali paints her romance in beautiful daubs of sonic color. On "It Could Happen to You," Cardinali and Don Thompson shape the song, with the bassist playing counterpoint to the singer's melodic line that skips through the song as Botos lightly glides across the keyboard. The story of romance continues on "In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning," an intimate vocal and piano duet.
The Lennon/McCartney classic, "Blackbird," is a remarkable contrast to several versions performed by jazz musicians. Kristy's version is almost devotional as it flutters in a superb line of flight, with Breit, Botos and cellist Matt Brubeck. The standards continue with an interpretation of Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind," that swells with emotion, as Kristy's vocals are complemented by jazz icon Guido Basso's incomparable trumpet..
Perhaps the most playful moments on the record may be heard on "A Sleepin' Bee," as Kristy leads Cadence through the song's beautiful melody and story. Johnny Mercer's beloved "I Remember You" is haunting, while on "Taking A Chance On Love," Botos and Brubeck lock in on some masterful interplay throughout. "You Don't Know Me" is rendered as a melancholy blues, and "Just One Of Those Things" features a bopping Thompson, while "Teach Me Tonight" is a tour de force for Kristy and her brilliant accompanist, Guido Basso.
My Romance heralds a return to the art of telling a story through the simple beauty of a song's melodic line.
Track Listing: My Romance; It Could Happen To You; In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Blackbird; It Never Entered My Mind; A Sleepin' Bee; I Remember You; Taking A Chance On Love; You Don't Know Me; Just One Of Those Things; Teach Me Tonight; Bye Bye Blackbird.
Personnel: Kristy Cardinali: vocals; Robi Botos: piano, Fender Rhodes; Don Thompson: bass (2, 10); Guido Basso: flugelhorn (5, 11); Kevin Breit: guitar (1, 4, 9), dobro (1, 4, 9), music box (1, 4, 9), slide (1, 4, 9); Matt Brubeck: cello (4, 5, 8); Brian Barlow: percussion (6); Cadence (Kevin Fox, Dylan Bell, Carl Berger, Ross Lynde): Cadence (Kevin Fox, Dylan Bell, Carl Berger, Ross Lynde): background vocals (6); Dylan Bell: vocal arrangement (6); Kevin Fox: vocal arrangement (6).
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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