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duo with Jeb Patton

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Blame It On My Youth - 'Dedications'Roberta Gambarini
00:00 / 06:05
RoberTwo For The Road - 'Dedications'Roberta Gambarini
00:00 / 04:39

"Roberta Gambarini's skilful singing ability is demonstrated in a perfect project dedicated to the great singers of the past.

This work is a collection of songs by Roberta Gambarini, who is hailed as the best vocalist in the current jazz scene, performed in duo with pianist Jeb Patton. Sarah, Ella and Carmen have left behind a huge amount of recordings during their long careers, and all three singers shared the love for the songs of the Great American Songbook. From this vast repertoire Takao Ishizuka, who is also the producer for this album, has carefully selected songs  that will make vocal fans tap their toes. The majority of the songs included in this album are by  his special request.  It's a project that would scare any singer. It is not enough to simply sing the same songs that these three vocal greats sung. This task requires respect for the songs, a willingness to make a musical offering, the shedding of one's ego, and an attentiveness to detail that will make the listener smile. The interpretation of these songs must reveal empathy and respect for the path that Ella, Sarah, and Carmen took. If a singer  doesn't  possess that type of sensibility,  she won't be able to convince her audience. Based on this premise, Gambarini took the challenge and  creatively re-interpreted these songs, making them her own. One of the many examples of such level of respect and loving carefulness in this album, is the track "Lullaby of Birdland". Sarah Vaughan recorded it with Clifford Brown  backed by a three-horn sextet, but Gambarini boldly followed Sarah's version of Ernie Wilkins' arrangement. The famous scat intro is sung with only piano accompaniment, and the chorus singing, the scat in the middle, and the four verses with Brown and others follow the same structure as Sarah. This alone makes it clear that she is dedicating the work to her vocal heroes  but in doing so, she is inventing the scat and revealing her individuality. Furthermore, unlike Sara, who sings in tempo until the ending, Gambarini uses a ritardando to add meaning to the ending section of the tune. "Blame It on My Youth" which has become popular among Japanese singers in recent years, is probably influenced by Carmen McRae's  singing, but Gambarini uses the same verse as Carmen to sing it in an elegantly restrained  manner.

“This work is a collection of songs by Roberta Gambarini, who is hailed as the best vocalist in the current jazz scene”

(Toshiro Kobari - Japan Financial Times)

Here, rather than copying the technique, she delves in the heart of the story.  The protagonist's regret and self-pity as expressed in the masterful lyric , are revealed by subtly changing the emphasis, punctuation, and delivery of the phrase "blame it on my youth,'' which appears several times. This is another of Gambarini's  remarkable skills. The medley of "Oh Lady Be Good" and "How High the Moon" is filled with love for Ella. 'Oh Lady Be Good,' which is taken as slow as it can be, is a part of Ella's masterpiece recording 'The Gershwin Songbook.' Although Roberta does not double the tempo like Ella did, Charlie Parker's tune "Ornithology'' can  be heard as a shout chorus, in unison with the piano. Roberta's scat is unique here as well. The surprising and wonderful thing is  that if you close your eyes and listen, it sounds like Carmen is singing. In this way, Gambarini's respect for her seniors and her personality as a unique  vocalist are combined with her light and airy style, allowing listeners to enjoy the real pleasure of jazz vocals. The great Jazz impresario Takao Ishizuka, one of the legendary Japanese  promoters of all times, describes his intentions for the production : "Back in the day, there were a lot of outstanding singers like Ella, Sarah, Carmen, and Billie Holiday. Among white people, Anita O'Day, June Christie, Chris Connor, Peggy Lee. They all sang real jazz. The recordings, planning, song selection, and singing were all top-notch.'' The starting point of producer Ishizuka's idea was to produce an album of vocal jazz with the same attention to detail and loving professionalism that was a trademark of the great vocal productions of the Golden Era of Jazz. He then turned his attention to Gambarini,  whom he had known and appreciated for 20 years, having hired her many times to perform in his famous Jazz Elite and Concord Fujitsu Jazz Tours.. "She was born with a wonderful voice. She has developed a foundation in classical vocal music and sings jazz. I knew she would definitely jump on this project." The results are impressive. As you can hear. Ishizuka, who has been listening to real jazz for the past 60 years, was right on target. Ishizuka, who rarely praises music, said the first thing he said during the preview was, "Excellent!"


Toshiro Kobari 

(Nihon Keizai Shibun - Japan Financial Times)

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"Dedications" Reviews

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