Greta Matassa, The Smiling Hour
by John Henry, Audiophile Audition
We get many female jazz vocal albums sent in for review. Most donít make the cut, so when I review one it has to be rather special. This one is special. Donít know how I missed Ms. Matassa all this time - sheís appeared on five previous Origin CDs. I knew she was big in the Seattle area, but hadnít heard a CD. This is a voice with real personality, range, control, and good humor. Itís a package that features a lot more than just singing in tune and in rhythm (which a large number of female vocalists donít seem to have down).
Gretaís choices of tunes is superb; there are contributions from Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, Jule Styne, Pat Metheny, and one of my favorite Brazilian tunes, Estate, by Bruno Martino. It must be one of her favorites too - itís by far the longest track on the CD. The Ellington selection is a vocal version of his Reminiscing in Tempo, with original lyrics by Mel Torme and featuring vibist Susan Pascal. Greta Matassaís voice is distinctive, with great individuality. She often gets an instrumental timbre like a jazz horn - similar to what Billie Holiday did, but sounding nothing like Holiday. Most enjoyable jazz vocal album Iíve heard in some time!
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