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Friday, Jan. 27, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Roberta Gambarini: "Easy to Love"


The past decade of jazz vocals offered more disappointments than triumphs. New jazz singers often depended less on vocal ability than on commercially viability.

That's changing with artists like Roberta Gambarini, a native of Turin, Italy, who has just released her first international CD, "Easy to Love." Gambarini treats her voice more as a vocal instrument than "just" singing. Her scatting adds great solos on little-recorded gems like "Centerpiece" and "Multi-colored Blue," while her phrasing on often-recorded numbers like "Lover Come Back to Me" or "Two Lonely People" combines a range of control with easy fluency. On faster tunes, she even improvises like a horn player.

Feeling, though, is at the core of her delivery. On "I Loves You, Porgy," her voice, accompanied by the barest whisper of brushes, aches with longing. Jazz heavies like James Moody, Willie Jones and Joe LaBarbera add musical taste behind her vocal talent, but Gambarini's real appeal is how she reveals the musical beauty of emotions. "Easy to Love" is one of the best vocal jazz releases of recent years.



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