Roberta Gambarini – Easy To Love
Easy To Love
(Groovin’ High – 2006)
by Paula Edelstein
Although she was born and bred in Italy, Gambarini brings a distinctly American jazz flavor to Easy to Love. On the title track, her multi-octave range can be seen as an indication of the “cool school” but when she starts swinging she’s anything but cool! Her scats and melodies breathe beautifully and her melodic lines have a lighter, airier quality that finds her swinging but in a softer, more relaxed manner. Billie Holiday’s anthem “Lover Man” has been claimed as part of the cool jazz movement and Gambarini certainly offers an outstanding variation of this sublime ballad.
Even Gershwin would have enjoyed her passionate reworking of “Porgy, I’s Your Woman Now/I Loves You Porgy.” Gambarini is equally successful at presenting this Great American Songbook standard as a medley of sentimentality with a range of penetrating cries and whispers implicated in her voice. From ballads to bop, Roberta proves she’s no stranger to the art of swing or the bop idiom. Once into “On The Sunny Side of The Street” she teases with playful scats and daring vocalese that would renew anyone’s vocal jazz ambitions.
“Lover Come Back To Me” adopts a different tonal palette as she launches into a swinging set complete with searing scats that clearly show her respect for Ella Fitzgerald. Joined by the inimitable James Moody on tenor sax and vocals on “Lover Man” and “Centerpiece,” the saxophonist adds his instinct for melodic development and own brand of scatting. Adding further to Gambarini’s style is a mellifluous but dynamic ensemble that includes Chuck Berghofer and John Clayton on bass, Tamir Handelman and Gerald Clayton on piano, Willie Jones III and Joe La Barbera on drums.