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Claudia Franco: Soul Dance

Chris Mosey By

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Claudia Franco, one of the most promising of the new generation of Portuguese jazz vocalists, is concentrating for the moment on building up a following in the jazz clubs and nightspots of Lisbon, where she teaches music.

"I haven't really considered the possibility of playing outside of Portugal," she says, "I'm focused on establishing myself here." Occasionally however she allows herself to fantasize about playing international venues, in particular the Blue Note Club in New York City: "That would be awesome."

Franco is refreshingly original. She's very straight ahead, with no dramatics or overdone soul inflections.

There are faint, highly respectful echoes of Billie Holiday when she sings Gershwin's "The Man I Love." Similarly, some Judy Garland in her version of "The Trolley Song" from the 1944 movie Meet Me In St. Louis. This, a very welcome revival, features an excellent alto solo by Ricardo Toscano. Franco also does "The Boy Next Door" from the same show.

She lists her influences as Ella Fitzgerald, Norma Winstone, Nancy Wilson and Betty Carter. Though she adds, "I could go on and on."

She does a fine version of Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," featuring Rui Caetano on piano and Tomas Pimentel on trumpet. She repeats the final line just a little too often for comfort, something she also does on Cole Porter's "Night And Day."

There's a lot to like about this album. Franco has picked her musicians well. Of particular note: Sergio Rodrigues' masterly arrangement of "Day In, Day Out" on which he achieves an extremely full, almost big band sound.

Then there are two Franco originals: "Supposed To Be," which posits the need to take chances in life and love; and "Dharma," dreamy and sixties-ish, extolling what Franco calls "the natural way of things and the need to see the big picture." It means "The Way" in Buddhism and is also the name Franco gave to her cat.

There's only one song in Portuguese. This is the closer, Tom Jobim's "E Preciso Dizer Adeus." It leaves you wanting more. Perhaps a tribute album... but only after Franco has played the Blue Note of course.

Track Listing: Night and Day; The Man I Love; Day In Day Out; The Boy Next Door; Dharma; You’re Driving Me Crazy; The Trolley Song; Supposed To Be; How Long Has This Been Going On; Come Sunday; E Preciso Dizer Adeus.

Personnel: Claudia Franco: vocals; Rui Caetano: piano; Joao Custódio: bass; Pedro Felgar: drums; Bruno Santos: guitar; Ricardo Toscano: alto sax; Tomas Pimentel: trumpet; Ruben Luz: trombone; Eduardo Lala: trombone; Cesar Cardoso: tenor sax; Joao Alves: doublebass (3).

Title: Soul Dance | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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