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Letizia Gambi: Blue Monday

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Four years ago, Italian singer-songwriter Letizia Gambi’s impressive debut album was bolstered by a spectrum of A-list collaborators led by Lenny White and including Ron Carter, Gil Goldstein and Chick Corea. White returns here, as producer, principal arranger, cowriter with Gambi on six tracks and drummer on all but three, for another colorful excursion into vocal pop-jazz (with a distinct Neapolitan twist). Again he’s brought along a host of top-drawer guests. Carter and Goldstein are back, plus pianists Helen Sung and Donald Vega, guitarist Dave Stryker and bassist Daryl Johns, alongside several less renowned though dynamic players.

Last time out, Gambi assembled a playlist that extended from Ellington to Björk. The eclecticism continues here, with strange bedfellows Amy Winehouse (an impassioned “Back to Black,” with a hint of vintage Berlin cabaret), Doris Day (a gossamer “Que Sera Sera”), the Gershwins (an intriguingly frolicsome “But Not for Me”) and Jackie McLean (a vibrant “Dig,” blended with “Sweet Georgia Brown” and guttural Italian chants inspired by “The Washerwoman’s Song” from La Gatta Cenerentola).

The White-Gambi collaborations prove as heterogeneous, with the urgent social consciousness of the title track; molten sensuality of “Skin to Skin”; seductive promise of “You’ll Say Tomorrow/Perché Domani”; shadowy regret of “When You Were Here”; romantic tenderness of “Under the Moon”; and, in memory of singer-guitarist Pino Daniele, dreamily eulogistic “Without You” (based on Daniele’s “Senza ‘e te”). Additionally, they join forces to vibrantly reimagine Joe Henderson’s “Recordame” as the Stryker-ignited “True Love, Remember Me.”

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Originally Published