June 17, 2024

Jenna Mammina
Meant To Be

(Mamma Grace – 2002)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.

It was at the 2001 IAJE that I initially heard Jenna Mammina’s voice, at a private performance she hosted at the hotel. This year she did it again, performing songs from her new release Meant To Be and it was one of the highlights of the entire trip, particularly when she slipped into her version of the Steely Dan classic Dirty Work. Jenna’s unique sound falls somewhere between Phobe Snow, Carly Simon and a Nightingale’s song. Her control is excellent and her style is very entrancing. The CD starts off with Lotus Blossom delivered in a hot flamenco-like style by guitarist Andre Bush, Jenna coming in like a cool breeze to carry the melody. Her voice has a sassy way of curling when she pushes it, then sliding back into a sweet whisper, very noticeable on her rendition of Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose.

The More I See You is another of the tunes she sang at the hotel, and the CD version is almost as good as live (nothing is as good as live, but a lot fuller since at the hotel it was only Jenna and Andre Bush. Her treatment of Ellington’s In A Mellow Tone is jouncy and ‘Hep’, as Duke would have said. Distant Water is a softly spun ballad, storytelling reminiscent of Phoebe Snow in the 70’s and 80’s. Jenna Mammina performed at a couple of the now-defunct Mt. Hood Jazz festival and absolutely wowed ’em. Be sure to grab a copy of this one for your collection, and stop by Jenna’s web site to see if she’s playing anywhere within a few hundred miles or so of your town. If so, try to go, it’s a show you don’t want to miss.

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