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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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You Are There

Emarcy 0602517370678


1. You Are There
2. Then I'll Be Tired of You
3. People Time
4. When Lights Are Low
5. Deep Purple
6. Reminiscing
7. Suppertime
8. Just Squeeze Me
9. Something To Live For
10. Stardust
11. Lush Life
12. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
13. Come Sunday
14. How Are Things In Glocca Morra?
Roberta Gambarini – Vocals
Hank Jones - Piano

Some of the most memorable vocal performances have been by singers with minimal accompaniment. Remember Julie London singing Cry Me a River with just guitar and bass, or Ella Fitzgerald’s marvellous duets with pianist Ellis Larkins? Italian singer Roberta Gambarini walks this musical tightrope on her new album, where the only accompaniment is provided by Hank Jones’s discreet piano.

Roberta Gambarini is a fairly new singer on the jazz scene. She was born in Turin and in 1998 moved to the USA, where she won third place in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition and was more recently voted No. 1 talent deserving wider recognition in Down Beat’s 2007 Critics’ Poll.

This is her second CD (the first was called Easy to Love) and it displays a vocalist who is already mature in technique and interpretation. She has a clear, light voice – perhaps too lightweight for a darkly mournful song like Suppertime, the cry of a woman widowed by a lynching. This Irving Berlin song (from the 1933 show As Thousands Cheer) is just one of several unhackneyed items in a programme that includes little-known numbers by Harburg & Schwartz (I’ll Be Tired of You), Frishberg & Mandel (the title-track) and four slices of Ellingtonia. There are also two compositions by Benny Carter: People Time and When Lights Are Low – the former sung without words but entirely as slow scat. The latter is the only track where Roberta slips up badly: she ruins a rhyme in the first stanza ("warm" doesn’t rhyme with "low"!) and her over-ambitious improvisation leads her to sing off-key.

Hank Jones’s accompaniments are consistently sympathetic and tasteful, following Roberta’s lead rather than dictating her direction. On some tracks he gets the chance to stretch out with his own solos, which are always well built. A good example is in Just Squeeze Me, where his striding left hand ably drives his melodious right hand.

I’m rather tired of new singers suddenly being hailed as the latest big thing in jazz vocals although their talents are decidedly debatable. But Roberta Gambarini clearly has the necessary talent: a good voice and a feeling for jazz improvisation.

Tony Augarde


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