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Judi Silvano: Let Yourself Go

Maybe because she did let herself go, Judi Silvano may finally have the breakthrough CD she deserves. She’s been paying her dues since biting the Apple in the mid-’80s. Now, with everybody on the disc handpicked by the Philadelphia-born Silvano, she turned these sessions into an 80th birthday gift for her mom-the inspiration for the choice of material, which happens to coincide with Judi’s: the Great American Songbook.

It explains why her brother Dan is on trombone, sister Nita adds some vocalese and why Michael Abene did all the arrangements and conducts the 11 pieces, including outstanding players such as soprano/alto saxophonist Dick Oatts, trumpeter/flugelhornist Ingrid Jensen and bassist Rufus Reid. It also explains the sheer joy conveyed by Silvano.

She has a husky voice that’s surprisingly rangy, as on the tricky Abene chart “Why Do I Love You?” in which she sings in unison with Oatts’ alto and later repeats the boppish line with the whole ensemble. She’s equally unpretentious and sophisticated, handling mood swings from the title tune to the album’s tear-inducing highlight, “Goodbye,” backed only by Abene on piano.

Scat doesn’t intimidate Silvano, either-check “Our Love Is Here to Stay”-and she isn’t afraid of complex arrangements. With her flawless intonation, she easily negotiates “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” and the highly reharmonized “I Love Paris.”

Originally Published