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Chiara Pancaldi: I Walk a Little Faster

She hails from Bologna and is a bit older, 33, than her photos suggest. She studied with her countrywoman Roberta Gambarini and Sheila Jordan, cut her vocal-jazz teeth as half of the duo Dobra Voz and released her first solo album, The Song Is You, on Italy’s small Dodicilune label in 2012. A year later, pianist Cyrus Chestnut happened upon Chiara Pancaldi and, enraptured, offered to host her Stateside debut at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola before suggesting they team in studio. With bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth rounding out the sterling rhythm section (and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt as special consultant), I Walk a Little Faster is the dynamic result.

Pancaldi’s crystalline soprano is a degree or two warmer than Gambarini’s, her interpretive instincts just as sharp and her modulation exemplary. With many singers for whom English isn’t their first language, finding the emotional heart and soul of American standards can be challenging. While Pancaldi’s accent is clearly-and rather cozily-discernable, nothing is lost in translation (though Lerner and Loewe’s tricky “abso-blooming-lutely” in “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” does manage to stump her).

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