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Gabriela Martina: No White Shoes

Mark Sullivan By

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Swiss-born, Boston/New York based vocalist/composer Gabriela Martina makes her debut with No White Shoes, a collection of mostly original music with diverse influences. Jazz, rock, funk, pop, gospel and even Alpine roots music contribute to the eclectic mix. The opener "Narcissus" refers to the symbolism of the album's cover photo, with Martina's face obscured by a mirror. The songwriting and singing both recall Joni Mitchell—one of pop music's greatest eclectic artists—and Finnish guitarist Jussi Reijonen turns in a memorable rock guitar solo. "Origin" is latin funk, with a great vocalise hook and a jazz piano solo from Czech-born pianist
Jiri Nedoma. The title tune is a funk-tinged celebration of artistic independence.

Martina goes back to her jazz roots with two covers, each a radical reinterpretation. Wayne Shorter's "Witch Hunt"—originally on Speak No Evil (Blue Note, 1965)—is re-imagined as an acapella choral piece, with Martina overdubbing all of the parts. It's performed at a much slower tempo, and the theme isn't stated explicitly until a ways into the track. Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" starts out with a modern rhythm, but later ventures into bebop swing territory, as well as featuring another overdriven guitar solo from Reijonen. The closing track "Thirsty Flower" slows things down with an atmospheric vocalise, also featuring a soprano sax solo from guest Andrew Halchak.

An impressive debut. Martina has a contemporary sound—similar to artists like Gretchen Parlato or even Norah Jones—but with more emphasis on her own songwriting. It's a potent blend of jazz and pop, stamped with her own personality and aided by a strong backing band.

Track Listing: Narcissus (2012 version); On My Way; Love Me; Origin; Us; No White Shoes; Witch Hunt; A Night in Tunisia; Thirsty Flower.

Personnel: Gabriela Martina: voice; Alex Bailey: drums; Kyle Miles: bass; Jiri Nedoma: piano; Jussi Reijonen: guitar; Andrew Halchak: soprano saxophone (guest); Tareq Rantisi: percussion (guest).

Title: No White Shoes | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


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