So In Love
If there’s any lingering doubt that Roberta Gambarini has, with remarkable alacrity, joined the upper echelon of jazz singers, So in Love should erase it. Gambarini opens with the Cole Porter title track, allowing it to unfold in slow reveal, achieving a sublime effect that suggests twinkling stars appearing one by one against a jet-black sky. But it is on another Porter gem that Gambarini best illustrates her visceral brilliance at interpreting lyrics. Many a great singer has missed the subtle humor that underscores the paean to barely controlled lust that is Porter’s “Get Out of Town.” Gambarini gets it, and (with some equally magical assistance from special guest James Moody on tenor sax) uses it to effectively restrained advantage. More overtly funny is “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a JAMF,” with Gambarini shimmying into a loose-limbed, Annie Ross groove as she winds her delicious kiss-off of a lyric around Johnny Griffin’s “The Jamfs Are Coming.”
In addition to Moody and fellow guest Roy Hargrove, Gambarini has, on a dozen of the 14 tracks, surrounded herself with a cunning blend of seasoned pros and younger guns, including bassists Chuck Berghofer and Neil Swainson, drummers Jake Hanna and Jeff Hamilton and, a perennial favorite with top-flight singers, pianist Tamir Hendelman. The two remaining tracks, “You Must Believe in Spring” and a medley from the Italian screen classic Cinema Paradiso, were recorded seven years earlier, in the aftermath of 9/11, with Eric Gunnison, George Mraz and Al Foster, and speak with incomparable eloquence to the need for renewed hope.