Roseanne Vitro is one of those jazz singers who falls into the category of "I recognize the voice, but I just can't seem to place her." She has more than a respectable discography which stretches back to 1982, when she released her debut album Listen Here for the Texas Rose label. Her fall 2021 album, Sing A Song Of Bird, is a combination of abundance of attitude and perseverance, since it is composed of two separate sessions (one recorded in 2017 and the other in 2021), linked by a celebration of the music of the incomparable Charlie Parker.
When the opportunity arises to bring together bebop stalwarts such as Bob Dorough, Sheila Jordan and Marion Cowings you do it, because as fate would have it, Dorough died in 2018 at 94, shortly after completing his tracks for this release. The session opens with "People Chase," based on Parker's "Steeplechase" with some over-dubbing on Vitro's vocal. It's a saucy interpretation fully in keeping with its bop underpinnings. Vitro and Dorough join forces with some scatting as they develop "The Scatter" sung to Parker's "Red Cross." These vocal improvisations give the musicians a chance to escape into a new world not bound by standard thoughts and imagery. Dorough's solo flight is on the tune "Audubon's New Bluebird" based on Parker's "Bluebird" and is a whimsical example of Dorough's gift for clever songwriting.
In 2021, one of the last living connections to Charlie Parker and the bop period is vocalist Sheila Jordan. She provides a master class in bebop phrasing as she dives into "Bird's Song," which is based on "Relaxin' At Camarillo." Alto saxophonist Mark Gross chips in with a couple of Parker-like runs to add to the tune's authenticity. Vitro and Jordan tag team each other through an exchange of storytelling verses and scatting in the number "Sheila, Jazz Child" based on Parker's "Cheryl."
There is one instrumental number in this session and that is "Koko" combined with its antecedent "Cherokee," performed by the expansive alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, the always elegant pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Alvester Garnett. At a brisk tempo, the band delivers the rhythmic, chordal and tonal associations in a way that pushes the number forward all with a logic and comfort that defines the rendition. The final track is not a Parker tune: "These Foolish Things" was written by Jack Strachey and Holt Marvell. The three principal vocalists bring their talents together and stay out of each other's way by covering alternating verses. They come together only on the final "remind me of you." This release is a cheerful little earful of vocal bop at its best.
Grapple With The Apple;
Audubon's New Bluebird;
Sheila, Jazz Child;
Now's The Time;
These Foolish Things.