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Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs (Gut Strings)

A review of the vocalist's second album

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Angela Verbrugge: Love for Connoisseurs (Gut Strings)
The cover Love for Connoisseurs by Angela Verbrugge

Based in British Columbia’s picturesque capital of Victoria, jazz vocalist and songwriter Angela Verbrugge introduced herself with 2019’s captivating debut The Night We Couldn’t Say Goodnight. That project covered a lot of ground, leading off with two originals that, in hindsight, offered a telling glimpse of her prowess and ambition. Focusing entirely on original material, written mostly in collaboration with veteran musicians, her second album Love for Connoisseurs establishes Verbrugge as a jazz artist mining everyday life for lyrical nuggets. 

Well integrated into her capable band with pianist Miles Black, bassist Jodi Proznick, drummer Joel Fountain, and saxophonist Dave Say, she applies her considerable wit and winsome sound to songs that tend to focus on the vicissitudes of romance. She turns pianist Ray Gallon’s intricate tune “Enough’s Enough” into an exasperated list of offenses by a slobby housemate. One hopes that their collaboration detailing the exploits of a boorish cad, “Jive Turkey,” refers to someone else. On the all-too-topical “Quarantine” they take a left turn from an “All Blues”-like intro into a forbidding portrait of life in the pre-vaccination phase of the pandemic.

Clearly a student of the American Songbook, Verbrugge takes a swing at a variety of familiar tropes and more often than not makes solid contact. Writing with bassist Neal Miner, she crafts “This Is Manhattan,” a graceful addition to the subgenre of love letters to Gotham. They also team up on the midtempo Timmons-esque groover “Mr. Right.” Vancouver saxophonist Saul Berson supplies the playful tango “Not Here, Not Now,” which in Verbrugge’s hands is an ode to regret and missed amorous opportunity. The album closes with “Maybe Now’s the Time,” a loping Mose Allison-style number written with Miles Black that turns the bebop velocity down three notches. No maybes; for Verbrugge, now is definitely the time. 

Learn more about Love for Connoisseurs at Amazon and Apple Music!

Angela Verbrugge: The Night We Couldn’t Say Goodnight (Gut String)

Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert is a Berkeley-based freelancer who has written about arts and culture since 1989 for numerous publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and KQED’s California Report. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he experienced a series of mind-blowing epiphanies listening to jazz masters at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in the late 1980s, performances he remembers more vividly than the gigs he saw last month.