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Amana Melome’: Indigo Red

Ready for a shot of female empowerment with a healthy dose of jazz, funk, R&B and reggae? The very soulful vocalist Amana Melome’ provides it all on her debut, which boasts contributions by studio vets Curt Bisquera and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums and John Beasley on keys. Melome’ has the pedigree: She’s the granddaughter of the late jazz bassist Jimmy Woode, a bandleader and musician in Duke Ellington’s band.

Born in Germany and raised in Italy, Melome’ was schooled in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. The vocalist’s worldliness–she speaks four languages–is expressed through her autobiographical lyrics. On “Nao Falo,” she relates an encounter in Brazil while channeling Maria Muldaur’s up-and-down playful vocals. Yes, there’s indeed an overall aura of playfulness on her debut, as she stretches her chords a la Al Jarreau on several occasions and throws out screaming rock-guitar excesses, courtesy of producer Saverio “Sage” Principini, on “Black Sheep.”

Melome’ is no Sade–she’s not that mellow–and there are too many styles represented here. That’s good for the adventurous listener, not so good for those looking to lock Melome’ into a musical category.

Originally Published