Letizia Gambi Blue Monday (ArtistShare)
Featured on Spring 2016 JAZZIZ On Disc (Disc Two)
An intriguing blend of styles and cultures, Letizia Gambi‘s sophomore recording, Blue Monday (ArtistShare), intertwines the singer’s Italian roots with modern and traditional jazz. For example, the album’s opening track is a mash-up of the Harlem-jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown,” Jackie McClean’s post-bop classic “Dig” and a chant with origins in Neapolitan opera. The conceit works well throughout, thanks to Gambi’s artistry, as well as some remarkable musicians. Drummer Lenny White, who played on and produced the record, snared jazz-world heavyweights including pianists Helen Sung and Donald Vega, accordionist Gil Goldstein, bassists Ron Carter and John Benitez and guitarist Dave Stryker. White and Gambi wrote several of the tracks together, including the samba-like title track (not to be confused with the Fats Domino tune of the same name). Gambi salutes Amy Winehouse with a cover of the late singer’s slinky “Back to Black,” included here. Gambi doesn’t attempt to imitate Winehouse, but offers her own self-determined interpretation. White’s inventive arrangement utilizes tango elements that are reflected in Sung’s piano, Hector Del Curto’s bandoneon, Jisoo Ok’s cello and his own sturdy backbeat, and a cool and surprising jazz break about midway through.