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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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NICKI PARROTT &
ROSSANO SPORTIELLO

Do It Again

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19387

 

 


1. Sea Changes
2. Of Foreign Lands and People (from Scenes From Childhood)
3. I Love the Way You’re Breaking My Heart
4. Idaho
5. Fleurette Africaine
6. Come Rain or Come Shine
7. Do It Again
8. Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away)
9. Climb Ev’ry Mountain
10. You’re the One I Think I Waited For
11. Sugar Sweet
12. Sentimental Journey
13. Wonder Why
14. Moonglow
15. A Sleepin’ Bee
16. Two Sleepy People

Nicki Parrott - Bass, vocals
Rossano Sportiello - Piano, vocals

 

In my review of this duo's first album together, I commented on their "superb musicianship as well as winning charm". This second album has the same qualities, proving that this is a musical pairing made in heaven.

Looking at the list of tunes, I am impressed by the broad and adventurous repertoire that Nicki and Rossano have assembled. It ranges from jazz standards (Idaho, Liza, Moonglow) to little-known songs (I Love the Way You're Breaking My Heart, Sugar Sweet), and from an original by Nicki Parrott (You're the One I Think I Waited For) to an adaptation of a classical piece (Of Foreign Lands and People from Schumann's Kinderszenen).

Their empathy is clear from the very first number - Tommy Flanagan's Sea Changes - where Nicki's double bass confidently underpins Rossano's economical piano. Then the roles are reversed while Sportiello adds discreet punctuation to Parrott's bass solo.

Rossano delicately states the theme of Schumann's Of Foreign Lands and People before improvising on it in stride-jazz mode. I Love the Way You're Breaking My Heart introduces the appealing sound of Nicki's vocals, which are reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in their voluptuous but ingenuous intimacy. Rossano's accompaniment is perfection.

Idaho is taken at a breakneck tempo but both players cope with apparent ease. Sportiello is sometimes pigeon-holed as a stride pianist (and he includes some stride here) but he is a lot more than that: he is a complete master of the piano. I am glad to encounter Fleurette Africaine, a beautiful Duke Ellington composition which deserves wider exposure. Come Rain or Come Shine is performed much more frequently but Nicki's vocals create a shining rainbow.

The title-track returns us to the seductive side of Nicki's singing. This versatile Australian is not only a fine bassist but also a better vocalist than many of the female hopefuls currently contending for jazz recognition. Rossano's relaxed but glittering solo fits like a glove.

Sportiello whizzes joyfully through the Gershwins' Liza, apparently unaccompanied by the double bass. Climb Ev'ry Mountain is restrained and thoughtful, as it should be. Nicki performs her own song You're the One I Think I Waited For in a little-girl voice that expresses uncertainty - even naivety. But there's nothing naive about her delivery in Sugar Sweet, a blues which has the touch of R & B about it.

Nicki states the melody of Sentimental Journey with support from Sportiello; then she solos on it tunefully before swapping fours with the pianist. Rossano again seems to be unaccompanied in Wonder Why, a tune from which he draws much emotion. Moonglow is in danger of being hackneyed but the duo freshens it up with real feeling.

A reviewer in a jazz magazine recently said that A Sleepin' Bee was "rarely recorded" but it has actually been recorded quite often. It's an unusual song (written by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen for the 1954 musical House of Flowers) and may need explaining that it refers to a superstition in Haiti that a woman will find true love if a bee lands on her without stinging. However, no explanation is needed for the wordless but luminous interpretation of the song here.

Rossano Sportiello is far from being the world's greatest singer but, as on their first CD together, he joins Nicki Parrott in a vocal duet to close the album. Some subtle key-changes help to keep it within Rossano's range. As far as I'm concerned, these two can do it all again...and again.

Tony Augarde



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