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Roberta Gambarini & Hank Jones: You Are There

Talk about delayed gratification. One sunny September afternoon back in 2005, Roberta Gambarini and Hank Jones entered New York’s Nola Studios. Armed only with a list of standards and a shared desire for spontaneity-no arrangements, no preplanning, no rehearsals-they emerged five hours later with 17 tracks laid down, all but one in a single take. Fourteen months later, the tracks were mixed and mastered at Capitol Studios in L.A. Now, more than another year later, You Are There has, with 14 tracks intact, finally arrived in the U.S.

So is it worthy of such prolonged anticipation? Indubitably. This sublime pairing of legendary pianist and destined-to-be-iconic vocalist will be remembered as one of standout albums of the year, perhaps of the decade. Like so many works of genius, it is deceptively simple: two superlative craftspeople matching wits while igniting one another’s imaginations. Jones’ brilliance requires neither quantification nor qualification. As for Gambarini, she can be eerily reminiscent of Carmen McRae yet also mirrors the interpretative sass of Anita O’Day and the innately seductive warmth of Rosemary Clooney. In short, Gambarini is one of the most refreshing, most proficient vocalists to emerge since Diana Krall, ranking alongside Madeleine Peyroux and Jackie Ryan among the preeminent talents of the day.

Originally Published