Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cinzia Spata Sings "Into the Moment": A Vocalist for Jazz Lovers

In jazz-vocalist-land sometimes it seems that there are those so intent on establishing their vocal credentials that they evoke the long gone voices of the greats more than they sing themselves and what is in the moment. The result sometimes is Billie, Ella, Sarah, and/or whoever heard as the equivalent of an image copied and recopied on a Xerox machine. Not very pretty always, and the sharpness of the original is lost.

Then there are vocalists like Cinzia Spata with her third record, Into the Moment (Koine). This is jazz singing for those who love jazz. First off, the ensemble is packed with first-rate players: Bruce Barth, piano, Dave Clark, acoustic bass, Yoron Israel, drums, Ken Cervenka, trumpet/fluegel and George Garzone on tenor. They are playing jazz, as you would expect. Barth is a full pianist that shows a Bill Evans lushness, a keen-ness of ear and good bopped linemaking. Cervenka has the burnished Wheeler-like sound. And George is George! Not to leave out the rhythm team. They cook.

Then she chooses songs that I, and I suspect others who dig the jazz more than the cabaret aspect of contemporary "club" vocalists, associate with the finest of the music. There's a beautiful rendition of Keith Jarrett's haunting "Questar," "My Favorite Things," songs by Steve Swallow, Ralph Towner, Wheeler, Waldron's "Soul Eyes," most with with Cinzia's new and appropriate lyrics. There's Mingus's "Duke's Sound of Love," and "Very Early," the Bill Evans perennial. There's a very nice Spata original, "Carlos," with room for good blowing. These are excellent songs, things you would love to hear vocalized (many not previously getting this treatment) and Cinzia doesn't just take them on, she does it with grace, facility, charm, and in musically pointed ways. "Tea For Two" even finds a new, refreshed existence here.

She is a vocalist who is a musician! And her voice carries all the baggage of the music without seeming to find it too heavy to bear. This is a VOICE, buddy. I'm finding that this one is climbing my mental list of jazz vocal releases to the top, one of the best of the year I think.

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