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Alexis Cole: Zingaro

Like too many a jazz singer, young Alexis Cole is, three albums into what deservedly should be a high-profile career, far better known, and respected, in Japan than in the United States. The native New Yorker is blessed with a deep contralto as smooth and dark as the richest espresso (with a dash of nicely-tempered, Patty Waters-esque wail added for good measure). Here, backed only by gentle strings-Ron Affif on guitar and Jeffrey Eckels on bass (with guitarist Saul Rubin and bassist Jon Roche substituting on two tracks recorded back in 2003)-her wide-ranging expressiveness and sunny demeanor are given plenty of space to stretch out.

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