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Easy to Love

2024 Limited Audiophile Signature Edition

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2006 - 2024


2007 Grammy Award Nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

The "Easy to Love" album was recorded at legendary Capitol Studios in LA by the great engineer Al Schmitt. Featuring Master James Moody, bassists John Clayton and Chuck Berghofer, pianists Tamir Hendelman and (as a special guest on one tune) Gerald Clayton, and drummers Joe La Barbera and Willie Jones III, it has been reissued in 2023 as Vinyl Special Audiophile Edition.


"You are about to hear a special singer who builds her fan base song by song, concert by concert, fan by fan. The music world is catching on to Roberta Gambarini

I’ve seen her dazzle crowds in venues no larger than the average living room, and big enough to be packed by thousands of people.

This recording pairs Gambarini with two splendid rhythm sections. The album was recorded "live" in the studio on two afternoons. Two different bassists (John Clayton and Chuck Berghofer) and two drummers (Willie Jones III and Joe La Barbera) join pianist Tamir Hendelman. 

Pianist Gerald Clayton, John's son, was hanging out at the studio on one of those days. Roberta knew Gerald was a devotee of Benny Carter, who was a Gambarini mentor during his final three years, so she asked him  to sit in on the Carter classic "Only Trust Your Heart". The one (and only) "take" they played is what you hear on this album.

As you'Il hear, Roberta is a keen arranger and talented writer in the "vocalese" tradition of putting lyrics to instrumental solos. . won't bore you with a track- by-track analysis. Trust your ears. But I  will give you a few more examples of Roberta's approach and the rationale behind some of her song choices.

"On the Sunny Side of the Street" is a Dizzy Gillespie arrangement from the 1957 album "Sonny Side Up," which he recorded with saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins. Roberta hits some Gillespie-high notes on the opening melody and wrote lyrics to the horn solos that follow - the first originally played by Sonny Stitt, the second by Dizzy himself and the third by Sonny Rollins.

Saxophonist James Moody drove to LA from his San Diego home to record two tracks with Roberta, "Lover Man" and "Centerpiece". His tenor work on both tracks is sublime, and his improvisation on the classic "Lover Man" is nothing less than spectacular. 

“...nothing could prepare even a close follower of the vocal scene for the artistry in evidence throughout Easy to Love.”

(Samuel Chell - Allaboutjazz)

And he also turns Harry "Sweets" Edison's bop anthem "Centerpiece" (with lyrics by Jon Hendricks) into a spontaneous scat duet with Roberta.

This saxophone legend was a most fitting addition, bringing the project full-circle for her. Roberta's dad first took her to hear James Moody when she was ten. Meeting Moody and performing with him around the world has been the realization of a life-long dream.

Roberta has been singing parts of the Billy Strayhorn songbook since her teens. For this project, she selected "Multi-Colored Blue", which was featured on "Duke Ellington Live at Newport, 1958". 

“It is all about hues- variations on the blues- and it featured alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges," Roberta says. “I sang the original central lyrics, and added some of my own lyrics to the Hodges solo.”’

She includes a seamless medley of Jerome Kern's "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "AIl the Things You Are",  "Smoke….”,  her parent's favorite tune, was the hit song in the 1930 musical "Roberta".

Also note the shift in group dynamics on "Too Late Now", which was recorded as a duo featuring just Gambarini's_ voice and Hendelman's superb piano accompaniment. 

Roberta included Bill Evans’  “The Two Lonely People" to bring the project full circle again- with ex-Evans drummer Joe La Barbera at the skins.

Here in your hands - or in your CD player - is a fine representation of a singer whose art is sublime and whose career continues to hold great promise."

Original Ken Frankling liner notes

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L. to r. : Gerald Clayton, Tamir Hendelman, Roberta, Steve Geniwek, Al Schmitt

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