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Melissa Stott Ė Why Now

Melissa Stott (vcl) with Stjepko Gut (tpt), Davide Brillante (gtr), Nico Menci (pno), Pietro Ciancaglini (dbl bass), Alessandro Minetto (dms)
Rec. at the Artesuono Studios, Udine, in December 2004



Mamiís Kitchen
Why Now
Donít You Get It
Youíre Through
An Imaginary Girl
I Think Of You
You Donít Love Me
Anyone Can See That Iím In Love
A Long, Long Way
Why Now (alternative take)

This is the first of a brace of recordings made for Feet First by the talented young lyricist and singer Melissa Stott. She was born in Manchester to a Singaporean-Chinese mother and an English father and now lives in Italy where sheís married to the pianist and trumpeter Max Chirico.

This album shows some original touches. She writes her own confidential-sounding lyrics which are artful without being either gauche or self-conscious. The pangs of love and loss feature prominently in such songs, ones couched in the vernacular of the American Songbook. She sings in an American accent.

The range of influences here embraces Jump bands, bossa nova, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald and some mainstream swing. To all this Stott brings cultivated and powerful musical taste. She sounds to have been strongly influenced in matters of timbre and material choice by American expatriate Stacey Kent, though her voice is darker than Kentís and stronger in the lower register.

We start with a swinger in Mamiís Kitchen and move onto bossa influence in the title track, of which we also have an alternative take as an envoi. There are Great American Songbook touches in Donít You Get It where trumpeter Stjepko Gut sounds rather Bunny Berigan-ish. Thereís maybe a Peggy Lee-Mr Rhythm Man sort of tinge to Youíre Through. I have to say I canít share Stottís admiration for Ellaís scat singing in Suspicion Ė itís a affiliation she indulges in her second Feet First album as well, though Gutís emulation of Clark Terry is pretty good. All the solos here are first class. Funnily enough in the circumstances the song Ella has nothing to do with Fitzgerald. Dreaming reminds me strongly of a Stacey Kent-Dave Newton vocal and piano performance swung gently over a Latin rhythm.

Then there are other neat touches Ė the bluesy workout on You Donít Love Me with its funky Gut solo; the arco bass solo that opens Anyone Can See That Iím In Love and the straight ahead A Long, Long Way that closes the album with swinging excellence.

This earlier, debut album sees Stott more immersed in swing than she was to become in the second album, which Iím also reviewing, in which she embraces bop more clearly. Stott is a real talent and her balance of the personal-confessional and the outgoing brings a satisfying look to her programme.

Jonathan Woolf



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