Barbara Sfraga – Oh, What a Thrill

Barbara Sfraga Oh, What a Thrill
Barbara Sfraga
(Naxos – 2000)
by S.H.Watkins, Sr.

I ran into Barbara Sfraga several times at the IAJE in January, but it wasn’t until the second or third time that I discovered she was a vocalist, and got a copy of her recent Naxos Jazz release Oh, What a Thrill. In a place where most artists are frenetically trying to get exposed, Barbara’s laid-back approach was different to say the least. I also missed her live performance… and after hearing the CD I regret that!

This is her first release as a leader, and Barbara pulls it off well, singing with precision and eloquence. She uses her voice as an instrument, never overpowering the music, yet not getting lost in it…somewhat reminiscent of a younger Nancy King, she is very expressive and sensual. The CD itself is a collection of classics and originals that starts right out with a smoky rendition of “Great Balls of Fire” which has a great guitar solo and gets downright funky at times.

I particularly liked the way she took “Good Morning Heartache” and made it her own. On “I’ll Call You”, written and co-performed by vocalist Mark Murphy, they dance a vocal duet around and through the music. In the liner notes, Mark Murphy states that Barbara is a singer that knows how to DARE. Not only does she know how, she dares to do it too! Be sure not to pass this by next time you’re in the CD store.

For more information and to Hear Sound Clips Visit the Naxos Jazz Web Site.